5 questions to Luke Rinderknecht (Percussionist)

Percussionist Luke Rinderknecht has recently returned to the Cleveland area after working from a New York City base for several years following completion of his studies at Juilliard. He is inserting himself into the new music world in Cleveland while continuing to work with Alarm With Sound and Metropolis Ensemble. Luke will be a guest performer with guitarist Dan Lippel (of ICE and New Focus Recordings fame) in a Cleveland Classical Guitar Society concert at Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland on December 12, 2013. 

You recently relocated to the Cleveland area. How did that came about and what is your take on the Cleveland new music scene?

I grew up in Shaker Heights, and still have family here, but the primary reason I moved back after 11 years in New York is that my wife, Annika Sheaff, has joined GroundWorks Dance Theater, a contemporary dance company here in Cleveland. I figured I could pursue my interests in chamber music and new music as well in Cleveland (a city that clearly loves music) as anywhere else. I’m still getting to know the individuals involved in contemporary music in Cleveland, but so far I’ve performed Avner Dorman’s double percussion concerto Uzu and Muzu from Kakaruzu with CityMusic Cleveland, joined forces with Tim Beyer’s excellent No Exit New Music Ensemble, and presented a workshop for Andrew Rindfleisch’s composition class at Cleveland State University. I’m looking forward to learning more about the new music being written and presented throughout Northern Ohio and becoming one of the many people fostering an energetic and vital new music scene in Cleveland in the years ahead.

Percussionist Luke Rinderknecht (photo credit: Robert Markt)

Percussionist Luke Rinderknecht (photo credit: Robert Markt)

What will you be performing with guitarist Dan Lippel at MOCA Cleveland?

I’m very excited to playing a concert for the first time with Dan. We have many friends and colleagues in common, including his Flexible Music colleague Haruka Fujii, with whom I played the Dorman double concerto last year. Another friend and colleague we share is Peter Gilbert, with whom Dan started New Focus Recordings, and whose percussion quartet Intrada I played as a young lad growing up in the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra. The upcoming concert at MOCA Cleveland is under the auspices of the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society. Dan and I will perform a duo for guitar and many percussion instruments by Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate. Dan has a full selection of solo material on tap for this concert, including some of his own works, and will end the event in style by joining with the esteemed Cleveland Orchestra oboist Frank Rosenwein in Ronald Roseman’s Come Chitarra.

What can you tell us about Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate and his composition Inchokkillissa?

Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate is a composer (and pianist) who is developing an American Indian classical composition tradition. He studied at Northwestern and the Cleveland Institute of Music. He is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and he was appointed the Cultural Ambassador for the State of Oklahoma in 2008. His music incorporates elements of American Indian culture. Inchokkillissa, the duo that Dan and I will play at MOCA, is based on a Choctaw church hymn entitled Worth of the Soul. Jerod’s note on the piece says:

Inchokkillissa roughly translates to mean loneliness…Southeastern Indians have been integrated with European traditions for about 300 years.  These hymns were sung in the old language during Christian church services and combine old Choktaw/Chickasaw style music with Christian story lines. The hymn is quoted in fragments during the first page of the piece and is based upon the performance of Choctaw singer Harry Folsom.

In additional to the hymn fragment, the music also uses the standard guitar tuning of stacked fourth-fourth-fourth-major third-fourth as a motivic element throughout the piece based on various roots and on multiple instruments. Jerod didn’t shy away from the balance difficulties inherent in a piece for guitar and percussion. The score calls for marimba, vibraphone, chimes, crotales, glockenspiel, bass drum, four tom-toms, four bongos, five temple blocks, and tam-tam.

Percussionist Luke Rinderknecht (photo credit: Tom Abelson)

Percussionist Luke Rinderknecht (photo credit: Tom Abelson)

You’ve had ongoing involvement with Metropolis Ensemble and Alarm Will Sound. What were some recent highlights?

Alarm Will Sound has been kind to have me as a guest artist for concerts in New York, London, St. Louis, Seattle, Columbia (MO), and most recently in Frankfurt, Germany.  They are like Captain Planet and the Planeteers: fantastic individuals (it seems like everyone has multiple talents) who, with their powers combined, always seem to have fun while making seriously good music.  This year I’ve been lucky to play the New York premiere of Steve Reich’s new piece Radio Rewrite with them.

I began playing with Andrew Cyr’s Metropolis Ensemble in the summer of 2008 for a project featuring the Ricardo Romaneiro and Ryan Francis remix of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (an electronica treatment with brass and percussion), which we performed at (Le) Poisson Rouge, and in Prospect Park, as the opening act for Deerhoof. Andrew continually fosters young composers and emerging talents, and I’ve been honored to premier an incredible amount of music by some wonderful composers, including Vivian Fung, Erin Gee, Jacub Chiupinkski, Christina Spinei, Gity Razaz, Du Yun, John Corigliano, Enriico Chapela, Brad Balliett, Elliot Cole, Ryan Carter, Remmy Canedo, Marko Nikodijevic, Kati Agocs, Tan Dun, and most recently, an opera by David Bruce at the off-broadway New Victory Theater in NY.

What is coming up for you in 2014?

2014 is almost here! I will have another performance of Avner Dorman’s double percussion concerto with Haruka Fujii, this time with the Albany Symphony. In February I will spend a week with Alarm Will Sound and Dance Heginbotham at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, culminating in a site-specific performance in the Charles Engelhard Court that pairs movement with the music of Aphex Twin, Edgard Varèse, and Tyondai Braxton. At the 50th anniversary season of the Bowdoin International Music Festival, I will teach percussion and perform in the Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music and other concerts.  Lewis Kaplan has built a lasting legacy of excellence at Bowdoin, and it is really a pleasure to be part of the celebration of his achievements, among them fostering a wonderful festival of new music that has over the years premiered works by Luciano Berio, George Crumb, Sebastian Currier, Derek Bermel, and many others.  As Lewis retires from directing the festival at the end of this season, he is leaving it in the dedicated and creative hands of David and Phillip Ying of the Ying Quartet, who will no doubt bring another 50 years of excellence.