Repertoire Search

Stewart Copeland

Publisher: AMP

Gamelan D'Drum (2010)
Palmyra Music
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
30 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
5 Percussion
Programme Note
Stewart Copeland Gamelan D'Drum (2010)
above: Dallas Symphony premiere excerpts
link: 'Dare to Drum' film documentary trailer
Performances will vary in duration based on players' improvisations.

First performance
February 3, 2011

Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Jaap van Zweden, conductor
Dallas, TX

Solo Percussion Battery:
5 Percussionists
African drums, Amadinda, Balinese Reyong, Bonang, Ceng-ceng kopyak, Cimbalom, Crotales, Doumbek, Ewe Set, Forest sounds, Gambang, Gender, Gentorak, Gong, Gong Puluh, Gran Cassa, Jalan Reyong, Javanese Barung, Javanese Gongs, Javanese Peking, Jing, Kajar, Kempur, Kendang Lanang, Kendang Tenganan, Kendang Wadon, Klentong, Lesung, Marimba, Riq, Saron, Shekere, Tenganese Tambour, Vibraphone

The San Antonio Symphony drummed its way Friday night to the center of the percussion universe with a performance of the heart-pounding “Gamelan D’Drum” by Stewart Copeland. The concert was a global event, partly because it was the highlight of the Percussive Arts Society International Convention this week. Many of the society members attended the concert. Word of this San Antonio performance is sure to circulate in the percussion world for a long time. Nearly 80 percussion instruments, including a group of them that constitute a gamelan, were arrayed across the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts stage in front of the orchestra. Copeland, a founder and drummer for the 1980s rock band The Police, premiered his three-movement concerto in 2011, written for the five-member D’Drum of Dallas. The piece has been played by the Dallas, Corpus Christi and Cleveland orchestras. But Copeland declared before Friday’s concert that the San Antonio performances would be the best yet, just from the rehearsals. The first movement jumped to life as the five players: John Bryant, Doug Howard, Ron Snider, Ed Smith and Josh Jennings, entered the stage playing hand-held instruments. The second movement highlights were solos by violinist Eric Gratz and cellist Kenneth Freudigman. The movement ended with the spellbinding sound of a rain stick. A big moment in the final movement came when three D’Drum players pounded poles into a hollowed-out log. The piece was filled with constant cross-currents of melody, rhythm and cadences in a kaleidoscope of textures and colors unique to the composition. The concert extended its international reach in the second half with a richly realized performance of Maurice Ravel’s masterpiece, “Daphnis et Chloé.” The work is famous for its pianissimo passages that float like clouds, interrupted by impressive, thunderous crescendos as the ballet music tells the Greek myth of a boy and girl who fall in love. The wordless choral passages were delivered by the well-prepared 52-member Trinity University Chamber Singers. The orchestra woodwinds had a good night, especially flutist Martha Long in a famous solo passage. As always, Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing structured the hourlong work perfectly for maximum emotional effect. The “dawn” scene was absolutely gorgeous. “Daphnis” was premiered in Paris in 1912. In brief remarks before the performance, Lang-Lessing told the audience of about 1,200 people that the orchestra would play the work for the victims of Friday’s terrorist attacks.
David Hendricks, San Antonio Express News ,04/11/2015
Saturday's premiere, conducted by music direct Jaap van Zweden, revealed a composer who has skillfully drawn together numerous strands of musical thought for a work that is not only intellectually successful but which can inspire sincere and immediate emotional response from an audience.... It's truly a shame that the premiere was limited to one performance; in light of the extended and obviously sincere audience response (three long curtain calls). This is a work one could easily imagine in the other great concert halls of the world, with all of the major orchestras.
Wayne Lee Gay, D Magazine,07/02/2011 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.
Darryl Smyers, Dallas Observer,07/02/2011
It was a musical piñata, cracked by a drum stick, which showered its musical influences in a glittering spray. Jazz, soul, minimalism, reggae, big band, Asian pentatonic scales, standard two-against-three, unison strings a la Motown arrangements for pops concerts, and lots more was tossed into the hot pot and what came out was something both remarkably familiar and refreshingly new. From the eerie beginning, when only a hidden fan disturbed a bamboo wind chime, to the '60s "environment" record jungle noises that led us to the reflective second movement, to the drumming of the finale, there was always something interesting and, occasionally, unique to hear. The audience loved every minute of it and Copeland was given an ovation that Puccini would have envied after the premiere of Butterfly.
Gregory Sullivan Isaacs,,06/02/2011
The audience fairly exploded Saturday night in the most uproarious ovation I can remember at a Dallas Symphony Orchestra classical concert. It came at the end of a new work for "world percussion" and orchestra by Stewart Copeland — yes, that Stewart Copeland, former drummer of the rock band The Police. Titled Gamelan D'Drum, the 37-minute, three-movement piece was commissioned by the DSO for the local percussion ensemble D'Drum. In addition to DSO percussionists Doug Howard and Ron Snider, the group includes John Bryant, Jamal Mohamed and Ed Smith.... Having studied D'Drum's complement of instruments, Copeland gives the players plenty to show off, including opportunities for improvisation. The music sometimes echoes Javanese and Balinese gamelans, with their hypnotic patterns on hung and kettle gongs, sometimes the intensity of African drumming. Mohamed put on a particularly brilliant display of drumming at the start of the third movement, the placement of his hands varying both pitch and timbre. Repetitive rhythms and jabbing syncopations whip up tremendous energy, and many a head in the audience could be seen enthusiastically bobbing. The second movement, by contrast, opens with tropical-jungle rustles, rattles and bird calls.
Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News,06/02/2011
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