After spending only a few hours in Mark Ford’s presence, it became crystal clear why my percussion instructor reveres him so much. Ignoring the fact that Ford is a former teacher of my instructor, Ford is also extremely talented at his craft and super sensitive with it.
Approaching him is not hard to do. The man is incredibly gentle and humble, though he’s considered to be a marimba virtuoso (most likely in the ranks with Keiko Abe). The insight he provides to music performance and artistic expression is out of this world. I have not heard so detailed and simple-to-follow suggestions so eloquently stated by someone of Ford’s caliber. (That statement is not meant to insult my percussion instructors, former or present.)
Tonight, UAB’s Percussion Ensemble had a two-hour concert, Mark Ford as our special guest. During the concert, Ford played stealing a moment… and Tiger Dance. The former is an original composition that is quite interesting when performed. Honestly, it isn’t quite my cup of tea, but I can appreciate the work for what it is. I don’t think I shall be adding it to my repertoire. Whatever new piece he played at the beginning of the masterclass will definitely be added to my repertoire, though.
Ford is quite the interesting character. Full of vitality, he knows how to engage an audience and keep it interested. I found his analogies, mannerisms, and body language to be interesting, welcoming, and calm. During the masterclass, I did think he could be a little nit-picky; however, it was definitely warranted by what he heard and saw from the student performers.
Ford’s compositional style is interesting. While he has composed some great works, I haven’t quite become a fan of his music; contrarily, I’m not saying that I hate his music! The man writes great music! It just doesn’t seem to appeal to my ears as much as works by other composers. Maybe that is the case, because my percussion instructor had us play through his method book for marimba. I remember not being excited about playing quite a few pieces from that book, though I enjoyed watching the instructional DVD that came with the method book; however, whatever solo he played this morning at the start of the masterclass, is definitely one I’d like to learn. As of now, it’s unfinished. I’m patiently (and eagerly) waiting for its release.
Overall, the experience of having Mark Ford as a guest artist and clinician was definitely a golden opportunity. I dare say that many don’t get the chance to enjoy what he has to offer (I’m pretty sure he’s in high demand!). I hope our paths cross again soon; I’d love to soak up some more of his words of wisdom. If not that, I’d love to see him perform again. I found his performances today and tonight to be thoroughly engaging and intriguing.