This World

Composed for NEXUS, this piece for percussion quartet and vocalist was written to bring awareness to environmental sustainability.

William Cahn joined the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra as principal percussionist after graduating form the Eastman School of Music in 1968.

This World was composed from January through May 2014 for Toronto-based percussion quartet NEXUS (Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Russell Hartenberger and Garry Kvistad). It was written to be performed in the 2014 Percussion Rochester Festival at the Eastman School of Music in conjunction with the Rochester Greentopia Festival with a theme of environmental sustainability. The music is based on the composer’s original poem, This World.

Click to hear a full performance of “This World.”

“This World” is a 9-minute chamber piece for percussion quartet and vocalist by composer and Nexus percussionist Bill Cahn. Published in a high-quality spiral bound edition with color cover, the package includes the parts in booklets with the score containing some program notes on the piece as well as a composer bio. The piece incorporates the composer’s original poem “This World,” which evokes the beautify of the natural world as does the cover photo. The vocalist sings the poem throughout; the part was written for a female singer but can be performed one octave lower by a male singer.

The piece employs dissonance in the mallet parts, but the vocal part is not difficult melodically. The rhythms for the vocalist are simple throughout with liberal pitch referencing in the mallet parts. Rhythmically, the piece is not difficult either with 12/8, 2/2, 3/4, and 9/8 meters and simple rhythms throughout. There is liberal chromaticism and some interlocking in the marimba parts, and the percussion part involves the drums tuned to pitches.

The piece was written for the percussion quartet in such a dynamic manner that the vocal part is always prominent, as it seems the composer’s intention is to feature the text, which calls attention to not only the inherent beauty of the Earth but its future in terms of sustainability and climate change. Cahn offers here not only a work fitting for percussionists but also one fitting for any audience, as the poetic message is as worthy of hearing as is his brilliant writing for percussion.

-N. Scott Robinson, Percussive Notes, May 2019



Performance Type

Mixed Ensemble