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She Who Sleeps with a Small Blanket, by Kevin Volans

Performed by Tomasz Kowalczyk

She Who Sleeps With A Small Blanket was written for Robyn Schulkowsky and she first performed it in Salzburg in October 1985. Robyn had been percussionist in my earlier pieces for harpsichords and rattles and it was obvious from her incessant drumming on tables during the breaks in rehearsals, that neither her talents nor energies were being fully utilized.

This piece has often been mistakenly associated with African drumming. However the only overtly African thing about this piece is the title, which implies 'she who sleeps alone', ie. without a lover. I wrote it as a virtuoso showpiece for the player as well as a composition study for myself. After some interim versions I decided to limit the instrumentation to drums only, with a brief coda on marimba. I explored several different kinds of patterning, the principal one being cross-rhythms in triplets played with two sticks.

  -- Kevin Volans

Kevin Volans was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, and studied with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Mauricio Kagel in Cologne. He now is an Irish citizen and lives in Co. Cork.

In the mid-seventies his work was associated with the New Simplicity - the beginnings of Post-Modernism in Germany. In 1979 after several research trips to South Africa, he began a series of pieces based on African composition techniques, which occupied him for the next 10 years.

After a productive collaboration with the Kronos quartet in the 1980s his work, principally in the field of chamber and orchestral music, has been regularly performed worldwide. The Kronos discs, White Man Sleeps and Pieces of Africa broke all records for string quartet disc sales.

In 1999 the South Bank in London hosted a 50th birthday celebration of his work and for his 60th the Wigmore Hall in London organized a "Kevin Volans Day" of concerts. He has been the featured composer in several European festivals of contemporary music.

Tomasz Kowalczyk is a young and upcoming percussionist devoted to representing the art of percussion as a fresh, exciting, and distinctive part of contemporary classical music. When he was in fourth grade, performing in a plastic recorder ensemble, a music teacher discovered his musical talent. In 2006, he won first prize in the European Music Prize for the Youth International Marimba Competition in Münster, Germany and at the final concert, performed Keiko Abe's "Prism Rhapsody" with the Symphonic Orchestra of Münstert. In February 2010 he won second prize in the Yale Gordon concerto competition in Baltimore. In 2010 he was a winner of the PAS (Percussive Arts Society) International Percussion Ensemble Competition as a member of the Peabody Percussion Group. In 2011 he was the second prize winner at the PAS International Solo Competition. He has presented solo recitals in his native Poland as well as in Europe and the United States.

Mr. Kowalczyk performs as a member of the Peabody Percussion Trio. Other chamber music performances include collaborations with the Mobtown Modern New Music Series presented by the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, with the Great Noise Ensemble in Washington, DC, and alongside members of eighth blackbird in Philadelphia, PA. He has also worked with the legendary pianist and conductor Leon Fleisher in performances of Gyorgy Ligeti's chamber operas "Aventures" and "Nouvelles Aventures." An experienced orchestral musician, he has performed in the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra, and with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, playing under many world renowned conductors, including Simon Rattle, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Fabio Luisi, Peter Eötvös, Pablo Heras-Casado and Robert Spano.

Interested in expanding the percussion repertoire, Mr. Kowalczyk frequently commissions and works with composers, premiering their new works. He participated in many masterclasses conducted by renowned artists such as Keiko Abe, Eric Sammut, Katarzyna Mycka, Linda Maxey, Robert van Sice, Tom Freer, Jim Atwood, Cynthia Yeh, Eduardo Leandro, Michael Burritt and So Percussion Group. He is currently a Diploma Program student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, PA, studying with Alan Abel, Don Liuzzi, and Robert van Sice. He received a Bachelor of Music Degree from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore as a student of Robert van Sice and David Skidmore.
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