The Rush of the Brook Stills the Mind













The Rush of the Brook Stills the Mind is an electro-acoustic percussion solo composed for me by Elainie Lillios. Elainie and I had been discussing a collaboration since 2011, and we began working on The Rush in earnest in early 2013.  In May, with Elainie’s new score in hand, from a studio in Fairbanks Alaska, I recorded a large sampling of percussion sounds from which she designed and built the interactive electronic part to the work. I performed the world premiere at the 2013 nief-norf Research Summit in June, and a subsequent performance at Sick Puppy (SiCPP) in Boston later that month. The composition is inspired by a poem by Wally Swiss of the same title. The program notes written by Elainie and the full text of the poem follow.

The Rush of the Brook Stills the Mind, for multi-percussion and live, interactive electroacoustics takes its inspiration from a poem with the same title by Wally Swist. The percussionist’s virtuosic foray through Swist’s evocative work pairs acoustic and electroacoustic forces into a single entity. The Rush of the Brook Stills the Mind was commissioned by percussionist Scott Deal and is dedicated to him.

The Trail flashes
with sluices of snow melt.
Silver-green undersides
of hemlock life in the wind.
A warbler’s electric call
climbs all the way
up the mountain slope.
That hidden waterfall
we promised to see
this spring unrolls bolt after bolt
of runoff that splashes
veils of water lace
over stones. The canopy
creaks with pine siskins.
Mist rises above snow.
The aloneness almost too much
for one man. The surge
of the brook crashes
around boulders; a sink hole
swirls and dips. Ripples
cascade in a basin
under deadfall to plunge
into a froth of torrent.
A nuthatch debugs
a fallen branch that rocks
in the current; and a mayfly
is blown above the spray.
–Wally Swist from “Mount Toby Poems”, published by Timberline Press. Reproduced with permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Following are links to the June 2013 performance at the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (SICPP 2013) at New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts.

Part 1:

Note: Performance begins at the 1:00 mark in part one.  

Part 2:

Working on Rush has been such a great project. Elainie is a fantastic composer and collaborator, and we put a significant amount of time into creating the piece. She chose sounds from my inventory of instruments that were particularly effective when processed, and she designed some really powerful processing units to create an amazing aura when the electronics engage the live percussion.  We went through many scenarios of what instruments to place together for the piece and came up with some really great combinations.  Below are a few photos from the project.  The first two are from the cabin in Alaska, the third is a practice set up at New England Conservatory, and the last is a pic of Elainie and I immediately after the premiere at Furman University in South Carolina.