D'Drum with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Morton H Meyerson Symphony Center
February 5, 2011
Better than: Getting hit by the ice falling off Cowboys Stadium
There were no Packers or Steelers fans at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center on Saturday night, the night before the Super Bowl. Thankfully, the crowd that showed up to hear the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Dallas-based drum outfit D'Drum premiere Stewart Copeland's concert piece, "Gamelan D'Drum," was well-mannered, well-dressed and very appreciative of a rather unique piece of music.
Copeland, best known for his time as drummer for rock icons The Police, has been, for the better part of 20 years, a composer of some note. His work scoring films, ballets and operas is what drove the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's decision to commission the piece that was debuted Saturday evening.
And though Copeland was in attendance for the concert, he did not perform. Instead, his work was performed by the local drum ensemble D'Drum backed by the entire Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
"Gamelan D' Drum" consisted of three sections, each one featuring an array of Balinese percussion instruments.
Copeland's writing style is definitely influenced by such neo-classical heavyweights as Steve Reich and Terry Riley. Highly repetitive, the sections were amazingly synchronized movements that were more akin to meditative practices than a symphonic concert.
At times, the orchestra seemed to overwhelm the percussionists of D'Drum. The quintet continued on, unfettered, but there were noticeable times when, no matter how furious the players performed, very little sound could be heard over the orchestra.
Perhaps the piece could be performed with a smaller orchestra -- maybe even a string quartet, although the DSO did add a certain muscle that brought each section to a powerful conclusion.
In the end, it was a fascinating night of unconventional music. I was very surprised that the normally conventional symphony crowd embraced Copeland's work as much as it did. Indeed, at night's end, Copeland and the D'Drum ensemble were showered with applause for nearly 10 minutes, and brought back onto the stage four times for further adoration.
Personal Bias: Having gotten to interview Copeland, I was already aware of what a nice guy he was. Folks who met the composer before and after the show were treated to a guy who doesn't act like a rock star or a stuffy prude. Answering questions (both insightful and stupid), Copeland was gracious beyond any expectations.
Random Note: When I told the elderly woman next to me that I got to speak with the composer, she asked, "How could you speak to him? He's dead." Sadly, she thought this evening's music was written by Aaron Copeland, the American composer who died in 1990.
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By The Way: The Dallas Symphony Orchestra should do more neo-classical pieces like this. The crowd was certainly engaged by this merging of styles. More than one person mentioned the fact that the usual fare at the Meyerson is much more conservative.