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Percussionist Ross Karre Wins Seat
in Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra

By Marci Janas '91



Ross Karre, a junior percussion performance major and a student of Professor of Percussion Michael Rosen, has been selected to participate in the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra for 2004. Acclaimed conductor Pierre Boulez is the festival's music director and is also the festival academy orchestra's principal conductor.

Karre will be in Lucerne, Switzerland, from August 28 to September 17, performing with the academy orchestra for all of its concert dates. He was chosen by the Ensemble intercontemporain, the festival's ensemble-in-residence.

Karre's reaction to the good news has several facets.

"I am excited because the opportunity is awesome," he says; "relieved because I put quite a lot of time and effort into the CD; and stunned because the age cut-off is 28 and I'm only 20."

The CD to which Karre refers is an audition recording, which, along with a resume, repertoire list, and two recommendation letters, was required in the application process. For the recording, Karre played the obligatory repertoire: Jacob Druckman's Reflections on the Nature of Water nos. 1 and 4, Philippe Manoury's Le livre des claviers no. 4, solo de vibraphone , and Elliott Carter's Eight Pieces for Timpani no. 1. Candidates were also allowed one piece of their choosing, provided that it was written after 1950. Karre submitted Karlheinz Stockhausen's Kontakte for Piano, Percussion, and Electronic Sounds, which he had recorded with pianist Mike Gallope, a senior, for an honors recital held last February in Warner Concert Hall.

"The requirements for the CD were extremely difficult and, in some case, not common pieces for American performance. I spent about three hours a day for three months working on the repertoire and I recorded the required pieces in Kulas Recital Hall over an 18-hour period January 2 and 3 this year. I then picked the best takes from about 100 complete takes and sent it off to Switzerland."

All of Karre's expenses, including air travel, room, board, and tuition, will be paid by the festival academy.

"I auditioned for Lucerne because I really admire Pierre Boulez and I love the complexity and conceptual nature of new music, especially the new music that we will be playing at the festival -- a very intense program by such composers as Birtwhistle, Boulez, Berio, Harvey, and Donatoni," says Karre. "I hope to learn a lot of new things about how the new music of Europe is interpreted in Europe. I believe that the proliferation of this music is vital to the advancement of music as an art."

Karre, who wrote an article for the April 2003 issue of Percussive Notes about practice techniques using Michael Rosen's methodology, says that Rosen has shown him the importance of examining a piece of music more deeply.

"Mr. Rosen constantly emphasizes the crucial part of music that is far beyond the notes, rhythms, and dynamics," he says. "That part of music seems so important to him that he doesn't even have a single word to describe it. He calls it 'drama,' or 'color,' or 'panache.' Sometimes he just says 'you know what I mean.'

And, in the intellectually embedded understanding that so many Oberlin teachers have with their students, Karre does.

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