In March, CalArts alum, musician, and University of Canterbury (New Zealand) Associate Professor Justin DeHart (Music MFA 04) released Ring: The Complete Percussion Solos of John Bergamo on Rattle Records.
A noted composer, percussionist, and longtime CalArts faculty member who founded the Percussion Program in 1970, Bergamo (1940-2013) was a teacher and mentor to DeHart while he was a graduate student at CalArts from 2002-04.
“I was inspired to do the project to promote and celebrate Bergamo’s compositional output, which I think deserves more attention,” DeHart writes in an email. “Many of the pieces had not been recorded before, and they all fit nicely on CD-length. I simply love his music and wanted to pay my respect by making recordings of the highest quality.”
The recordings, which are a result of 10 years of research into Bergamo’s music, includes works created between 1960 and 2000, and features solos on timpani, vibraphone, snare drum, multi-percussion, and marimba. One of the most unusual sounds on the album is from a huge 747 jet engine cowling (removable covering), which can be heard on the track “On the Edge.” The performer stands inside of it and uses various handmovements and tools to elicit sounds from the large aluminium object.
In the album’s liner notes, DeHart pays tribute to his mentor, as well as to his time at CalArts:
I studied with Bergamo, as well as some of his senior students, Randy Gloss and David Johnson. Bergamo was always extremely generous with his knowledge, time, and care for my own path as a young musician. He encouraged me to assert myself more in my musical pursuit, and to have respect and curiosity of music traditions, and people, from around the world. He became one of my musical heroes: someone whose creativity and musical skills seemed endless, but who remained humble, open-minded, and infinitely genuine.