by David Lang

Performed by Adam Sliwinski


about the music

string of pearls evolved out of a commission from a consortium of amazing percussionists, most of whom I have had the honor of working with closely over the years. I had the idea to make this piece out of a series of little bursts of energy, with tiny pauses in between, accumulating in power and density. After I finished the music I realized that the form of the piece resembled a string of pearls – short, exciting, shiny moments strung together in a continuous line.

When I started composing string of pearls I struggled for a while with the question of how to leave enough room for each of these players to make the piece his own. My solution was to give very little instruction on how to shape the performance. All the notes and rhythms are written down quite specifically but there are no dynamic markings, no accents, no crescendi, etc., and the players are instructed to shape each phrase ad lib. One performance may be all loud, or all quiet, or everything in between. It is my hope that by being vague with the performance instructions each of these incredible performers will find his own, unique version of the piece.

string of pearls is dedicated, in love and friendship, to Martin Bresnick, on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

     – David Lang

Commissioned by: Thomas Burritt and the University of Texas Percussion Program, Michael Burritt, David Cossin, Joseph Gramley, Eduardo Leandro, Todd Meehan, William Moersch, Doug Perkins, Steven Schick, Adam Sliwinski, Robert Van Sice.

CLICK HERE to explore more great literature from David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe!

about the mallets

For this selection, Adam performed with M114 - M115 - M115 - M116 (low to high)

Robert Van Sice Signature Keyboard
Medium. The most popular model in the series‚ this mallet covers the entire range of the marimba and produces a singing sound that is full of life.
L = 17"
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Robert Van Sice Signature Keyboard
Medium hard. Bright‚ but not to the point of "xylophone-like" brilliance.
L = 17"
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Robert Van Sice Signature Keyboard
Hard. When extreme cutting power and a sharp edge are required.
L = 17"
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about the composer

In the words of The New Yorker, "With his winning of the Pulitzer Prize for the little match girl passion (one of the most original and moving scores of recent years), Lang, once a postminimalist enfant terrible, has solidified his standing as an American master."

Many of Lang's pieces resemble each other only in the fierce intelligence and clarity of vision that inform their structures. His catalogue is extensive, and his opera, orchestra, chamber and solo works are by turns ominous, ethereal, urgent, hypnotic, unsettling and very emotionally direct. Much of his work seeks to expand the definition of virtuosity in music-even the deceptively simple pieces can be fiendishly difficult to play and require incredible concentration by musicians and audiences alike.

the little match girl passion, commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Paul Hillier's vocal ensemble Theater of Voices, was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for music. Of the piece, The Washington Post's Tim Page said, "I don't think I've ever been so moved by a new, and largely unheralded, composition as I was by David Lang's little match girl passion, which is unlike any music I know."

Other recent projects include writing on water for the London Sinfonietta, with libretto and visuals by English filmmaker Peter Greenaway; the difficulty of crossing a field, a fully-staged opera for the Kronos Quartet; loud love songs, a concerto for the percussionist Evelyn Glennie; and the oratorio Shelter, with co-composers Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe, at the Next Wave Festival of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, staged by Ridge Theater and featuring the Norwegian vocal ensemble Trio Mediaeval.

Lang is one of America's most performed composers. "There is no name yet for this kind of music," wrote Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed of Lang's work, but audiences around the globe are hearing more and more of it, in performances by such organizations as Santa Fe Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Boston Symphony, the Munich Chamber Orchestra, and the Kronos Quartet; at Tanglewood, the BBC Proms, The Munich Biennale, the Settembre Musica Festival, the Sidney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival and the Almeida, Holland, Berlin, and Strasbourg Festivals; in theater productions in New York, San Francisco and London; alongside the choreography of Twyla Tharp, La La La Human Steps, The Netherlands Dance Theater and the Paris Opera Ballet; and at Lincoln Center, the Southbank Centre, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Barbican Centre, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Lang is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the Rome Prize, the BMW Music-Theater Prize (Munich), and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1999, he received a Bessie Award for his music in choreographer Susan Marshall's The Most Dangerous Room in the House, performed live by the Bang on a Can All-Stars at the Next Wave Festival of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The Carbon Copy Building won the 2000 Village Voice OBIE Award for Best New American Work. The recording of The Passing Measures, on Cantaloupe, was named one of the best CDs of 2001 by The New Yorker. His recent CD Pierced, on Naxos, was praised both on the rock music site Pitchfork and in the classical magazine Gramophone, and was called his "most exciting new work in years" by the San Francisco Chronicle. The commercial recording of the little match girl passion, released on Harmonia Mundi, received the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Small Ensemble Performance.

Lang is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York's legendary music festival Bang on a Can. His work has been recorded on the Sony Classical, Harmonia Mundi, Teldec, BMG, Point, Chandos, Argo/Decca, and Cantaloupe labels, among others. His music is published by Red Poppy (ASCAP) and is distributed worldwide by G. Schirmer, Inc.


about Adam Sliwinski

Adam Sliwinski has forged a dynamic career as percussionist, conductor, and teacher built on creative collaboration.  He specializes in bringing composers, performers, and other artists together to create exciting new work. 

A member of the ensemble So Percussion (proclaimed as “brilliant” and “consistently impressive” by the New York Times) since 2002, Adam has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Lincoln Center Festival, Stanford Lively Arts, and dozens of other venues in the United States.  In that time, So Percussion has toured Russia, Spain, Australia, Italy, Germany, and Scotland. He has had the opportunity to work closely with Steve Reich, Steve Mackey, Paul Lansky, David Lang, Matmos, Dan Deacon, and many others. 

Adam’s solo marimba playing has been described by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as “beautifully delineated,” and by the Boston Globe as “expertly parsed.”  He has appeared as soloist in many diverse venues, including the International Computer Music Conference, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and at the Joyce Theater in New York for a 2-week run of Eliot Feld’s Mandance. He performs frequently with the International Contemporary Ensemble, founded by classmates from Oberlin. 

In recent years, Adam’s collaborations have grown to include conducting.  He has conducted six world premieres with the International Contemporary Ensemble, and will present several more in the 2010-2011 season in residency at Harvard University. 

Adam is one of only a few percussionists ever to complete the Yale School of Music’s rigorous Doctor of Musical Arts program, where his thesis engaged the percussion music of Iannis Xenakis.  He also earned his Masters at Yale with marimba soloist Robert Van Sice, and his Bachelors at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music with Michael Rosen. 

Starting in the fall of 2011, Adam will serve as Co-Director of a new percussion program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, where So Percussion will be Ensemble-In-Residence.  Adam is also Co-Director of the So Percussion Summer Institute, an annual intensive course on the campus of Princeton University for college-aged percussionists. He has taught percussion both in masterclass and privately at more than 80 conservatories and universities in the USA and internationally.




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