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15 Questions to Michael Lipsey/ Talujon Percussion Ensemble

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Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I am fine, thank you. I am at home. I live near New York City

What's on your schedule right now?
Talujon Percussion is preparing our concert series for this year. On the docket is a concert with Henry Threadgill and Zooid, performances with Carnegie Hall Concert Seriesa Symphony Space concert "1939" (this concert includes performances with the Purchase and Queens College Percussion Ensembles) and a concert of rarely heard French percussion music. Check our website There are other interesting events including new cds by members of the group.

The "Interpretations" series is celebrating its 20th seasonthis year. In which way does this bring back personal memories for you?
This is a GREAT concert series. Talujon has been a part of the series for years. We have been lucky to work with the series when it was presented at Merkin Concert Hall. The concerts are always well attended and the program is aggressive. Talujon is always able to present the newest pieces and be more experimental with our programming. It is really a pleasure. Congratulations on20 years!

What, to you, makes "Interpretations" stand out from the cornucopia of contemporary music series?
Unique mixtures of groups. The series usually has 2 groups performing on a concert. This gives the audience a chance to hear two great groups for the price of one.

In which way, would you say, has "Interpretations" been marked by its location – is there something typical New York'ean about it?
That is interesting. I think the fact that unique groups play together is a huge melting pot kind of thing... Look at our concert with Zooid. Zooid is one of the most interesting improvisatory groups out there. Henry Threadgill is a unique voice. Talujon is an experimental percussion group. Having the groups play separately and then premiering an ew work by Henry is just a unique experience... hard to do outside of a city like NY.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What's your approach to performing on stage?
Be prepared. Talujon has been playing together for 17 years. The fun part is already there.

How do you balance your personal emotions and the intentions of the composer in your interpretations?
We all believe that music is like a historic document that needs to be brought to life. We try to maintain the intention, but enjoy bringing in fresh ideas. In the end, we have be true to ourselves.

In which way, would you say, is your cultural background reflected in your performances?
I am not sure, I do not particularly feel tied to my cultural nurturing. I feel I am a student and am willing to learn and adapt.

How would you describe and rate the scene for contemporary composition in the area you are currently living in?
It is really great NY is a unique area. There are many groups playing great things. So many different voices to check out. It is a very enlightening. Even younger groups bring great things to concerts audiences.

Do you consider it important that more young people care for contemporary composition? If so, how, do you think, could this be achieved?
We do not really worry about that. There are series in NY that are ONLY contemporary music and they are very well attended. We have to do what we like and, hopefully, people will enjoy it.

How would you rate the importance of the internet and new media for you personally?
I am learning... it is a work in progress.

What's your view on the relationship between musical education and music?
3 members of the group have college teaching jobs in the area. I strongly encourage my students to work on new ideas and be unique. I know the others feel the same way. You never know what you might achieve without trying.

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
I think a healthy mixture of new works, respect for older pieces in our genre and experimental music. This has been our goal...I feel it works. You can not please everyone, everytime. You jsut have to please yourself.

How would you describe the relationship with your instrument?
I get the shakes when I do not practice. It bothers me. I just love to play. More so now after 25 years...:)

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
As a percussionist, I have to be on many instruments. I am proud to be involved with world music, jazz and Classical music. I am lucky because I get to play with other great musicians in these genres and still feel that I am contributing. I just do it my own way.

…the speed of passing time…
When the smoke clears /w. Barbara White, New York Music Ensemble e.a.
Snow in June – The Music of Tan Dun /w. Anssi Karttunen, Arditti String Quartet, Nieuw Ensemble

Talujon Percussion Ensemble

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