The percussion project

Omar Carmenates collaborates with the world-renowned composer John Psathas

April 15, 2014 | Tina Underwood

OmarCarmenates(2) (1)
OmarCarmenates(2) (1)
OmarCarmenates(2) (1)

Professor Omar Carmenates is preparing for a remarkable journey.

A recent recipient of a research grant funded by the Furman Standard award, Carmenates will soon embark on an ambitious collaboration dubbed “The John Psathas Percussion Project.”

Working alongside foremost New Zealand composer John Psathas, Carmenates will take multiple works from Psathas’s catalogue and rewrite them entirely for percussion instruments. In the first phase of the project, Carmenates will retool nine smaller chamber works by Psathas for a sextet of percussionists. Under Psathas's guidance, the ensemble, which includes Carmenates, will tour these pieces for two weeks across New Zealand, and record them for a CD release during Carmenates’s sabbatical in 2015.

In the second phase of the project, Carmenates will craft a U.S.-based mirror image of the first. The second phase features a much larger ensemble of 10-12 percussionists comprised of area professionals and Furman students. Conducted by Carmenates, the ensemble will perform percussion-only versions of five massive Psathas orchestral works, including his popular piano-percussion double concerto “View from Olympus.”  With Psathas in tow, Carmenates’s ensemble will tour the Eastern United States performing these works, and will record them for a second CD release.

All told, The John Psathas Percussion Project will produce two new CD recordings, two touring performance ensembles, and 12-15 new published works.

Since its inception in 2010, The Furman Standard program has garnered $2.3 million toward the goal of $3 million. Donors may honor one or more faculty members by pledging $25,000 (payable over five years) or by establishing a $100,000 planned gift. Contributions to the Furman Standard are pooled to help provide professors the materials, training, development, and other opportunities they need to remain leaders in their fields. Thirty-six current and former faculty members have been honored by 28 donors.

For Dr. Carmenates, the Furman Standard award will enable him to work with Psathas, a composer who is known for his work across multiple genres including orchestral works, film scores, and, most notably, music for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Says Carmenates, “This project requires a significant investment of time and resources . . . I am honored and grateful to have been chosen for this Faculty Research Grant. It is awards like this, as well the colleagues and students who surround me every day, that regularly remind me how special Furman University is and how lucky I am to work here.”