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“She Who Sleeps with a Small Blanket” by Kevin Volans


“She Who Sleeps with a Small Blanket” by Kevin Volans

Performed by Jeff Stern

Mallet Selection for this Piece:


Robert van Sice Signature M111

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Very soft. For a warm, round sound that is perfect for low register chorales.


Ensemble Series M153

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Medium. Great for the middle register. A very versatile mallet. Latex thickness = 1/16"


Ensemble Series M155

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Hard. Designed for articulate “lead line” playing within the top third of the instrument. With a thermal plastic core for plenty of clarity with this mallet! No latex cover.


She Who Sleeps with a Small Blanket (1985)

She Who Sleeps With A Small Blanket was written for Robyn Schulkowsky and she first performed it in Salzburg in October 1985. Robyn had been percussionist in my earlier pieces for harpsichords and rattles and it was obvious from her incessant drumming on tables during the breaks in rehearsals, that neither her talents nor energies were being fully utilised.

This piece has often been mistakenly associated with African drumming. However the only overtly African thing about this piece is the title, which implies ‘she who sleeps alone’, ie. without a lover. I wrote it as a virtuoso showpiece for the player as well as a composition study for myself. After some interim versions I decided to limit the instrumentation to drums only, with a brief coda on marimba. I explored several different kinds of patterning, the principal one being cross-rhythms in triplets played with two sticks.

  – Kevin Volans


Kevin Volans was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, and studied with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Mauricio Kagel in Cologne. He now is an Irish citizen and lives in Co. Cork.

In the mid-seventies his work was associated with the New Simplicity – the beginnings of Post-Modernism in Germany. In 1979 after several research trips to South Africa, he began a series of pieces based on African composition techniques, which occupied him for the next 10 years.

After a productive collaboration with the Kronos quartet in the 1980s his work, principally in the field of chamber and orchestral music, has been regularly performed worldwide. The Kronos discs, White Man Sleeps and Pieces of Africa broke all records for string quartet disc sales.

In 1999 the South Bank in London hosted a 50th birthday celebration of his work and for his 60th the Wigmore Hall in London organized a “Kevin Volans Day” of concerts. He has been the featured composer in several European festivals of contemporary music.
In the last decade he has turned his attention to writing for orchestra and as well as collaborating with visual artists. Principal performances in the last years include the Berliner Musikfest, Vienna State Opera, the Salzburger Festspiele, the Lincoln Center New York, Dokumenta Kassel, the Pompidou Centre Paris, Kunstmuseum Bonn, the Chicago Institute of Fine Arts, the Edinburgh Festival, the Barbican London and the BBC Proms.

Barry Douglas and the BBC Symphony Orchestra premiered his 3rd Piano Concerto at the Proms in London last year. The piece was commissioned to commemorate the Liszt bicentenary as well as Barry Douglas’s 50th birthday.


Percussionist Jeff Stern is emerging as an exciting new voice in today’s contemporary music scene. He has appeared with some of today’s most celebrated artists, including eighth blackbird and So Percussion. Recent highlights include an artist residency at the Yellow Barn Music Festival in Vermont, featured solo performances with the Boston New Music Initiative, and the commercial release of John Luther Adams’ large-scale percussion work, Inuksuit, on Cantaloupe Records. This season, Jeff has been performing as the newest member of Baltimore’s Sonar New Music Ensemble, participated in Yale’s Norfolk New Music Workshop, and presented concerts at the Kennedy Center in DC and the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis.

As an educator, Jeff has taught inner-city students at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s youth program, OrchKids, where he established the organization’s first percussion department. From 2010-2012, he worked with the Spirit of America Band program on Cape Cod instructing various ensembles, running sectional rehearsals, and teaching private lessons. In Fall 2013, he joined the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory’s Preparatory as the director of their percussion program.

Jeff earned his Bachelor of Music degree with honors from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studied with Ayano Kataoka and Thomas Hannum. He recently completed a Master of Music degree and was awarded the Harold Randolph Prize in Performance at the Peabody Conservatory under the tutelage of marimba virtuoso Robert van Sice.

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