EscALE8 was composed in the spring of 2020 as a vehicle to showcase an instrument that is less commonly scored for in traditional Western percussion ensemble literature: the bodhrán. The piece was commissioned by Jeremy Wade, who serves as the Director of Percussion at George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester, Kentucky. The title ties in one of Winchester’s most well-known businesses, the Ale-8-One Bottling Company, which is famous for its unique spin on ginger ale. A finely-skilled bodhrán player himself, Jeremy augmented Chad’s initial rhythmic and melodic framework for the piece, providing bodhrán notation, and adding intricacy and nuance to the soloist part.
The bodhrán is featured throughout the piece by serving to propel the energy and pulse of the ensemble as well as taking a lead role in two solo sections. Although the solo sections are notated in the sheet music, the soloist may choose to create/improvise their own part, allowing a more accessible or more challenging solo depending on the performer’s ability level. The supporting instrumentation is comprised of one vibraphone, one 4-octave marimba, and one 5-octave marimba.
– Chad Floyd, DMA (Associate Professor of Percussion at Campbellsville University)
EscALE8 was premiered on October 11, 2021 by the Campbellsville University Chamber Percussion Group, featuring Jeremy Wade on bodhrán.
You can find more information about this piece here.
The music is quite groovy, with appealing off-kilter syncopated rhythms occurring throughout. A potential ensemble challenge might be coordinating these rhythms among the mallet parts and providing a solid foundation for the soloist. I recommend “EscALE8” for an undergraduate or graduate ensemble, and it would work well with a guest soloist, faculty member, or student interested in bodhrán performance.
– Joseph Van Hassel
Vol. 58, No. 6, December 2020