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Nicholas PapadorMusic professor Nicholas Papador has released an album of contemporary classical works for marimba.

Professor pulls together performers for percussion project

Today, Redshift Records will release Marimba Collage: Open Score Works by Jordan Nobles, a contemporary classical album by Nicholas Papador, associate professor of music in the School of Creative Arts.

Dr. Papador has released a number of commercial recordings since joining the UWindsor faculty, but this release is particularly notable in that all performance and production stages of the project were completed by SoCA students, alumni, and faculty.

Visual arts professor Catherine Heard created the album cover images. Recent alumni Cody Weldon (BMus 2018) and Lilly Korkontzelos (BMus 2020) handled the production, tracking, mixing, and mastering of the recording. And current students Joshua Mathews and Martin Shultz, and alumni Martin Andres (BMus 2013), Nicholas Baddeley, Aaron Eichler (BMus 2015, B.Ed 2017), Vanessa Harnish (BMus 2008, B.Ed 2009), Jefferson Hills (BMus 2021), Charlie McKittrick (BMus 2009), Justin Skalaa (BMus 2020), and Taylor Unis added their talents on marimba or other percussion instruments to Papador’s arrangements and performances.

This CD project received grant support from the Ontario Arts Council, the Windsor Endowment for the Arts Elizabeth Havelock Grant in the Arts, and the University of Windsor Alumni Association.

Juno award-winning composer Jordan Nobles has had a significant impact on performance studies at the University of Windsor since the composer’s residency at the 2010 Windsor Canadian Music Festival, where student ensembles premiered and preformed a number of his chamber pieces, says Papador.

In the following years, Nobles’ open score works have been regularly programmed in concerts as well as in pedagogical improvisation and chamber music exercises in the School of Creative Arts. The term “open score” means that a piece of music has instructions from the composer: some notes, a framework, but it allows for creative interpretation.

“For instance, the piece Stasis is 10 minutes long,” explains Papador. “It’s a sustaining gorgeous work. I think it would sound pretty hollow if just one person played it, but it could be performed by a quartet, or it could be performed by 100 people. And if you're tasteful in how you choose your notes, it's still going to be a successful and very different performance.”

He says the timing was right to release a recording.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, I was looking for ways to continue the artistry with the University of Windsor’s percussion community and felt it was time to create recorded realizations of Nobles’ open score works for marimbas,” Papador says.

The multitracked recording format allowed the group to create large sonic landscapes that wouldn’t be easy to capture in a live setting. The setting also allowed the performers to record safely in distanced individual sessions. Each musician’s performance was recorded at Red Dragon Studios in Windsor.

“The marimba is a warm sounding percussion instrument whose large size and stereo profile have a pronounced spatial effect in a recorded medium,” Papador says. “The timbre of the instrument, with its rich low tones, water-like high register, and sustained tremolo seemed an ideal subject for these work’s improvisatory, meditative, and ambient qualities.

“The open score works of Jordan Nobles unify a number of conceptual and sonic elements within contemporary music practices. They are a joy to perform and it has been a pleasure to undertake this project alongside these talented young artists.”

Marimba Collage is available for streaming and CD purchase on Bandcamp, Spotify, other streaming platforms, and through local record outlets.

—Susan McKee