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“Dances of Earth and Fire” by Peter Klatzow


“Dances of Earth and Fire” by Peter Klatzow

Performed by James Beauton

Mallet Selection for this Piece:


Robert van Sice Signature M124

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Medium. The most popular mallet in the series. Extraordinary range of color, which is easily manipulated by the performer.


Robert van Sice Signature M125

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Medium hard. This is the most expressive mallet of the series and is an ideal choice for the modern marimba repertoire.


Dances of Earth and Fire was composed in 1987 for marimba virtuoso Robert van Sice.

Klatzow writes “These two ritualistic pieces reflect on the one hand the solidity and all-embracing gravity of the Earth itself, and the evanescent flickering of flame, which always seeks to rise upwards and escape into the beyong. These become metaphors for life and death, or earth-bound; spirit-bound forces.”


Peter Klatzow was born in Springs, Transvaal, in 1945. After his school years at St Martin’s School, Johannesburg, he spent a year teaching music and Afrikaans at the then newly established Waterford School, Swaziland.

The award of the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) scholarship for composers in 1964 took him to the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied composition with Bernard Stevens, piano with Kathleen Long, and orchestration with Gordon Jacob. In that year he won several of the College composition prizes as well as the Royal Philharmonic prize for composition, which was open to any Commonwealth composer under 30. He spent the following years in Italy and Paris, where he studied with Nadia Boulanger. He remained on very cordial terms with her until the time of her death.

Returning to South Africa in 1966, he worked at the SABC in Johannesburg as a music producer, and in 1973 was appointed to the University of Cape Town, where he is presently Professor in Composition. In 1986 he was elected to the rank of Fellow of the University of Cape Town for “having performed original distinguished academic work of such quality as to merit special recognition.” In 2002 he was awarded the distinguished Molteno Gold Medal from the Cape Tercentenary Foundation for lifetime services to music.

His major works include a full length ballet on Hamlet, for which he was given a special Nederburg award for the music, scores for ballets on Drie Diere and Vier Gebede, and Concertos for various solo instruments; piano, clarinet, two for organ, marimba, and a double Concerto for flute and marimba which was recently performed at Yale. His Prayers and Dances of Praise from Africa was introduced at the Three Choirs Festival, Worcester, UK. 1997 saw the first performances of two new works; his 3rd String Quartet (commissioned by the Lake District Summer Music Festival for the Chilingirian Quartet) and Return of the Moon, a cycle for voices and marimba, commissioned by the King’s Singers for themselves and Evelyn Glennie. They have successfully toured this work in the UK and the USA.


Winner of the 2012 Southern California Marimba Competition, Michigan State University Honors Competition, as well as other performance and academic awards, James Beauton has received praise and acknowledgement from numerous audiences across North America and Europe. Being a well rounded percussionist is James’ secret to success, allowing him to create fresh and exciting new ways of performing and teaching by combining his knowledge of multiple styles, genres, and disciplines of not only percussion playing, but music itself. This mindset has led him to a plethora of different musical experiences allowing him to claim such titles as marimbist, session drummer, conguero, timbalero, contemporary percussionist, and many more.

James began his teaching career at the age of seventeen. Since then, he has led multiple drum lines and marching bands to state and national championships, held private teaching studios in New York City and Los Angeles, and was awarded the position of undergraduate percussion instructor at SUNY Stony Brook, where his duties involved designing and teaching the curriculum for the undergraduate percussion studio. This passion as an educator has also led him to present multiple masterclasses and other percussion events all over the Michigan, New York, and southern California areas.

The commissioning and collaboration of new music is important to James, and he is currently involved as a member with the percussion trio, Tala Rasa, in a project that means to drastically increase the amount of today’s percussion repertoire. Throughout his career James has worked closely with composers such as John Mackey, Andrew Conklin, Ricardo Lorenz, Roshanne Etezady, Felix Pastor, John Corigliano, and Alejandro Vinao. Recently, James created, organized, and performed in a public concert series at Stony Brook University that was designed as an outreach project for the surrounding community. The series consisted of four concerts, each with a different stylistic theme that was aimed at reaching a wide range of musical tastes.

James has performed with ensembles such as Tala Rasa Percussion, Opera Moderne, the Michigan State Wind Symphony, the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps., and the Interlochen All-State Orchestra, as well as being a featured soloist with the Michigan State University Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras, the Contemporary Chamber Players, and at the Stony Brook Day of Percussion. James has also performed Gérard Grisey’s Le Noir de l’Etoile with the Yellow Barn Music Festival as a part of an Artist Residency, and is an endorsed Vic Firth Artist through the Young Artist Program and performs exclusively with Vic Firth sticks and mallets.

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