Second only to my crush on Gustavo Dudamel (now, at 37 as of Friday, a graying eminence, though still with a youthful salsa sway when the music overtakes him) has been my crush on Joseph Pereira, the heartthrob tympanist. Though Pereira sits at orchestra rear, he is a fierce and dynamic presence at every concert and also a drum whisperer. He puts his face down close to his beloved drums and settles them down with two fingers as if checking on a baby.
How lucky then to be at the world premiere of Pereira’s Threshold, a 25-minute score that is part sound bath, part conceptual art installation. The piece had a little Ravel, a little Stravinsky (a short burst of which preceded), Caribbean street performance, Latin American rhythm. but a lot of Pereira who was seated gloriously at center stage bookended by his imported team of athletic percussionists, Maraca2 and for whom he actually wrote the piece at their suggestion.
This would be an excellent piece to introduce the orchestra to young people as its list of ingredients shows that everyday objects can make music. In this case ceramic tiles, shakers, congas, bongos, gongs, thunder sheets, scrub brushes, wind chimes, spring coils, 2 rocks, cymbals, temple bowls and sleigh bells, tom toms and tam tams and many other percussive instruments were enlisted in a piece Pereira describes as reflecting the “tension and anxiety” with which society has become saturated.
However, I did not feel tension, but a marvelous feeling of appreciation at his ingenuity and flair.
Dudamel went on to conduct a stirring rendition of Brahms Symphony No 1 in C Minor which gave full vent to the other members of our wonderful Los Angeles Philharmonic and to Disney Hall’s acoustics. Neither his ardor, or ours, has diminished in the slightest.
Happy Birthday, Gustavo, what a perfect way to celebrate.
( I am sending you to an LA Times link so you can see the marvelous installation on the stage.)