Lesson 16/21

 Joseph Schwantner's “Fast Forward”
  Featuring Michael Burritt and the Eastman Percussion Ensemble

Fast Forward: Chamber Concerto for Solo Percussion, Percussion Quartet, Piano, and Contrabass
by Joseph Schwantner


Fast Forward was co-commissioned by the Donald F. and Maxine B. Davison Foundation and the Howard Hanson Institute for American Music in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Eastman School of Music. The new work was written for percussionist and composer, Michael Burritt, Eastman’s Paul J. Burgett Distinguished Professor.


Performed March 23 & 24, 2022 at the Kilborn Hall at the Eastman School of Music. Members of the Eastman Percussion Ensemble are:

Ethan Hall, Austin Keck, Young Kyoung Lee, Will Newton, Georgia Mills (piano), Zoe Markle (bass)


Published by Schott Helicon Music Corporation © 2021 Used with Permission


"Percussion has long played a prominent role in my music. As a young composer, percussion’s rich tapestry of articulations and colors opened a new soundscape to consider in my work. This penchant for embracing clear and pointed sounds with sonorous qualities first surfaced during my boyhood days while studying the classical guitar. I would often practice endlessly with one ear firmly resting on the instrument’s soundboard allowing me to hear the guitar in an entirely new way. The guitar’s soundboard with its strong and immediate vibrations, drew me into a seemingly vast sound space of plucked articulations and resonating overtones- all sounds not normally heard but are a part of the guitar’s rich and unique timbre. Only later did I fully appreciate how those formative musical experiences had become an important part of my musical DNA.

The chamber concerto’s ensemble includes a variety of pitch instruments: vibraphones, marimbas, xylophone, chimes, crotales, glockenspiel, frosted crystal singing bowls, and a series of drums that include: timbales, bongos, tom-toms and concert bass drum. Other non-pitched instruments employed are: tam-tam, gong, cymbals, cowbells, triangles, amglocken and stainless steel mixing bowls.

Framed in a single extended movement, the work opens with two introductory ideas, a forceful full-ensemble drum gesture followed by a ringing and quickly rising arpeggiated sonority played by mallet instruments and piano. The soloist takes the lead in presenting these primary elements that form the basis for much of the material developed throughout the work.

Two major sections focus on mallet instruments: (vibraphone, chimes, crotales, glockenspiel, marimba and xylophone) and drums: (tom-toms, timbales, bongos, snare drums amd concert bass drum). Also employed are several instruments not normally a part of the percussionist’s arsenal, frosted crystal singing bowls (played by rubbing outer edge of the crystals with a leather striker) and a set of stainless steel mixing bowls."

      - Joseph Schwantner



Having performed in four continents and more than forty states, Michael Burritt is one of his generation's most accomplished percussionists. He is in frequent demand performing concert tours and master classes throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada. Mr. Burritt has been soloist with the United States Air Force Band, Dallas Wind Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Nexus, Third Coast Percussion, Ju Percussion Group (Taiwan), Percussion Art Quartet (Germany) and the Amores Percussion Group (Spain). Mr. Burritt has three solo as well as numerous chamber recordings. In 2018 he recorded his Home Trilogy with the world renown percussion group Nexus and is soon to release a new recording of solo and chamber works by Alejandro Viñao with the Grammy Award winning Third Coast Percussion. In 2006 he recorded the Joseph Schwantner Percussion Concerto with the Calgary Wind Ensemble on the Albany label. Burritt just recently premiered Fast Forward, a new chamber concerto written expressly for him by Pulitzer Prize winning Composer Joseph Schwantner.


He has been a featured artist at nine Percussive Arts Society International Conventions. In 1992 he presented his New York solo debut in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall and in 1998 performed his London debut in the Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall. Mr. Burritt has extensive chamber and orchestral experience and has performed with the Chicago Chamber Musicians, The Chicago Symphony, Nexus, Third Coast Percussion and The Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra.


Mr. Burritt is also active as a composer, with three concertos to his credit as well as numerous solo and chamber works for marimba and percussion. His works for solo marimba have become standard repertoire for the instrument and are frequently required repertoire on international competitions. Commissions include The World Marimba Competition in Stuttgart Germany, The Paris International Marimba Competition, Nexus and the Paris Percussion Group. Mr. Burritt is published with Keyboard Percussion Publications, C. Alan, Masters Music and Innovative Percussion. Burritt is also an artist/clinician and product design/consultant for Malletech, where he has developed his own line of marimba mallets and the MJB Signature Marimba. He is an artist/educational clinician with the Zildjian Company and Evans Drum Heads and Yamaha Drums. Mr. Burritt is currently the President of Percussive Arts Society, was a member of the Board of Directors from 1996 - 2008, was a contributing editor for Percussive Notes Magazine from 1991 - 2006 and was chairman of the PAS Keyboard Committee from 2004 – 2010.


Mr Burritt currently holds the Paul J. Burgett Distinguished Professorship and is Professor of Percussion at The Eastman School of Music where he is only the third person in the history of the school to hold this position. Prior to his appointment at Eastman, Mr. Burritt was Professor of Percussion at Northwestern University from 1995-2008 where he developed a program of international distinction. Mr. Burritt received his Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees, as well as the prestigious Performers Certificate from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.