Hammers

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            This unusual composition for solo flute and four percussionists is unique in a variety of ways, but typical of the wide-ranging musical imagination of the composer.  She is clearly in the forefront of avant-garde composers for flute with various other instruments, but is increasingly writing for larger ensembles, as well.  A virtuoso performer, Loggins-Hull is engaged in an active career of composing and performing, not only in the New York City area, but nationally, as well.  A graduate of SUNY Purchase in flute performance, she also holds a MA in composition from NYU.  The breadth of her music activities is impressive:  composition, solo performances, television, radio, movies—you name it.  To that, she adds a dedicated career in education at a variety of distinguished institutions.

            Her musical style is nothing, if not imaginative.  Electronic effects, elaborate percussion, vocals for the flutist, she consistently challenges the listener in a constant kaleidoscope of novel and creative musical concepts.  Hammers is a frenetic, herky-jerky composition for solo flute and percussion ensemble—the latter composed primarily of an imposing variety of drums, played by four percussionists.  Formally, it’s rather like a rondo, that is, a musical idea that begins and ends a composition, and which returns from time to time, with a somewhat limited number of contrasting ideas heard in between.

            The first idea is a kind of “hiccupping” fragment that is—well—“hammered” away at, followed by a completely different idea of sustained, soft conjunct tones down low.  These ideas alternate until we reached the more-or-less middle of the composition,

that takes us to the higher regions of the flute range.  The percussion section is featured in an interlude before a return to the exploration of the ideas from first section that brings us to an end of this rather remarkable piece.  Admittedly, most of us would find the work an advanced exercise in musical style.  Yet, one commentator aptly has pointed out that it has more than a little in common with the frenzied duet between violin and percussion that ends Stravinsky’s classic chamber work L’Histoire du soldat of a century ago!