If a solo marimba performance can be a rare treat wherever it's found, Nathaniel Bartlett's concert cut the cake.
A long-time musician and veteran of prestigious music schools in the United States and England, Bartlett displays tremendous skill and finesse in his use of the marimba.
For a performance at CSU's new Edna Rizley Griffin Concert Hall, Bartlett flew in from Madison, Wis., for his performance Thursday.
Bartlett specializes in performing a program of modern music. The concert included works by Philip Glass, Erik Satie, as well as the songs, "Sedimental Structures," a piece about the earth, and "Reflections on the Nature of Water," a trip through the life of a water molecule.
Bartlett sees himself as an artist first and entertainer second.
"The most important thing I do is try to make art, whether performing or writing music," Bartlett said. "One does music because they couldn't imagine doing something else."
Performing the solo marimba has its advantages and drawbacks. While not in high demand as an orchestral instrument, the fact that Bartlett is one of a few solo performers on the instrument draws him to work when a marimba is needed. In addition to performing, Bartlett also composes. He is working on a symphonic piece featuring the marimba as a lead instrument.
In the field of percussion, players can either specialize in one instrument, or they can spread their time across the many instruments that make up the ensemble. Bartlett said his decision to focus on the marimba was one made over a long period of time, unlike the ever-common story of a musician receiving a revelation pointing to a "fitting" instrument.
Eric Hollenbeck, assistant professor of percussion at CSU, brought Bartlett to CSU in order to expose the percussion students to a performer who plays a program of contemporary "unpretty" music.
"Nate doesn't view himself as an entertainer, he views himself as an artist. In the long run, that music may motivate more deep thinking," Hollenbeck said.
The percussion program at CSU exposes students to the entire spectrum of percussion instruments for the first two years of their study, then allow them to specialize in a chosen instrument for the latter two years of the program.
"If you specialize, you become better, while if you don't, you become more versatile," Hollenbeck said.
The CSU Guest Artist Series for the spring of 2005 is primed with talent.
Sunday – 2 p.m. UCA Eun Joo Lee, Soprano
Saturday, March 5 – UCA 7:30 p.m. Cynthia Lawerence, soprano & Mark Calkin, tenor
Monday, March 7 – UCA 3:30 p.m. University of Nebraska Brass Quintet
Friday, March 11 – UCA 7:30 p.m. JB Smith & Robert Spring – percussion and clarinet
Friday, April 1 – UCA 5:30 p.m. Cavani Quartet
Sunday, April 17 – UCA 7:30 p.m. Boris & Elena Garlitzky – violin and piano
FOR PICTURES GO HERE: www.nathanielbartlett.com