To make a very long story short, the first percussion ensemble concert I attended, which was the Humboldt State Percussion Ensemble and Humboldt State Calypso Band both directed by Eugene Novotney, blew my mind. The concert was such a revelation that led me down a different path in music towards composition.
Engine Room, for a percussion ensemble of 14 players, was commissioned by Dr. Eugene Novotney and the Humboldt State Percussion Ensemble for the 100th anniversary of Humboldt State University. As an added homage to the Humboldt State Calypso Band, this piece, which combines everything from the serene fragility of metals to the pounding crashes of drums and earthy woods, gets its title from what we call all the instruments in the steel band that are not steel drums (drum set, “iron,” conga drums, etc.) but still create the driving force. It is my honor to compose Engine Room for Dr. Novotney and the HSU Percussion Ensemble, because the music to which they exposed me was just the tip of a very, very exciting iceberg that I have devoted my life to exploring.