Pastiche brings new sound to Baylor

Photo credit: Courtesy of John Alvin

By Helena Hunt

The Pastiche Chamber Ensemble will travel from Louisiana to perform for free at Baylor at 3:30 p.m. today in the Glennis McCrary Music Building’s Meadows Recital Hall.

The quartet, composed of clarinetist Jan F. Scott, trumpeter David Scott, pianist Noriko Tsuchiya and percussionist Thomas Blomster, presents an unusual clash of sounds and styles that the ensemble finds ideal for college audiences. They play everything from classical to dixieland, bringing together disparate styles and influences for a single unique sound.

“It’s an unusual combination of instruments, having the clarinet, the piano, the percussion, and the trumpet,” said Mark Schubert, a lecturer in trumpet at Baylor.

Chamber ensembles are not often mixed in this way, said Pastiche trumpeter David Scott. For example, percussionists will usually only play with other percussionists, not with clarinetists and trumpeters.

David said that the idea for the ensemble arose out of the friendships shared among Pastiche’s members. David has been married to clarinetist Jan for 30 years, and the couple developed a close friendship with Colorado percussionist Thomas Blomster. Blomster is married to the group’s pianist, Noriko Tsuchiya. The close relationships among the members of the group are what allow Pastiche’s music to work despite the mix of instruments.

“It’s so fun when you get out on stage and someone else is making a musical line and you know that person and you love that person. I think that adds something to the music, and the audience gets that too,” David said.

He also hopes that the ensemble’s diverse style and close relationships will inspire university students. The four are on faculty at McNeese University, and they frequently take their music to college campuses to introduce students to their unique style.

“Universities by their very nature are locked into certain ways they have to do things because of budget constraints and degree plans. They don’t have chamber group mixed ensembles,” David said. “We want [students] to see you can do whatever you want, as long as you’re passionate and consistent.”

Many students at Baylor’s School of Music only heard of Pastiche when the fall performance schedule was announced, said Cleveland, Tenn., junior John Burton. However, Burton reported that since hearing the ensemble’s music he is looking forward to hearing their performance.

“They’re innovating music,” Burton said. “You can innovate music in two ways, either by performing non-traditional music or playing non-traditional instruments. And they’re doing both. They’re taking the instruments to new levels.”

David said students often come to him after performances asking about the musical instruments they and their friends play, and whether they might also work well together in an ensemble. The students tell David that they never knew some of Pastiche’s sounds existed, and ask how they might make something like that themselves.

Much of Pastiche’s unusual sound comes from the work the quartet has commissioned for their performances. Already existing rearrangements must be reworked to allow the quartet to play together.

“What they’ve had to do is they’ve had to go out and commission composers. It’s really kind of an unusual endeavor in that regard,” Schubert said.

Scott hopes that these re-imagings will inspire music to see composers in a new light.

“Our goal for our group is, we hope that someone finds a new favorite composer,” David said. “We have hundreds of years of composers that we can bring to students. We want them to try new ideas and open up.”

David said he expects that Baylor students will welcome the new sounds that Pastiche brings.

“Baylor has emerged as a great school for music. There seems to be a willingness to try new things,” David said.