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Young composer Nico Muhly will be in Columbus this weekend

What: Composer Nico Muhly, the 2008 Carson McCullers Resident Composer-in-Percussion

Friday: Muhly will talk about his score for the horror-thriller "Joshua" at 7:30 p.m. in the Studio Theatre, RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, 900 Broadway. It's free. 706-565-4021.

Monday: The Columbus State University Percussion Ensemble will play the world premiere of Muhly's commissioned work. Free. Legacy Hall, RiverCenter. It's free.

Information: 706-256-3612

The newest name on the list of people to come to Columbus as a composer in residence at the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians is Nico Muhly. At 26, he's a respected composer and he'll be working with the CSU Percussion Ensemble as they play his commissioned piece, "I Shudder to Think."

"He is part of the composer residency," said Paul Vaillancourt, the CSU percussion professor. Now in its third year, the other two percussion composers were Eric Moe and Brian Cherney.

"I wanted to build a repertoire for the percussion ensemble," Vaillancourt said. Both Moe and Cherney's world premieres were recorded here during their residencies. He's planning to record Muhly's piece Monday night.

A disc featuring Moe's works, including "I Have Only One Itching Desire," the piece he composed for the CSU Percussion Ensemble, will be released later this year.

Muhly is an interesting young man. He received his undergraduate degree in engineering, but went on the get his master's degree in music from the Juilliard School in New York City. "I Shudder to Think" is written for five instrumentalists, Vaillancourt said. Besides the usual drums, the performers will be using antique bells, tuned cowbells and the marimba.

The CSU Percussion Quintet includes Vaillancourt with four students — David Owens, Chris Butler, Stephen Shealy and Justin Baker.

Another Muhly piece which is not a premiere is "Ta and Clap," which is for a percussion quartet. At one point, all four are playing the marimba, Vaillancourt said. The quartet features students Matthew Price, Patrick Clark, Diana Trefi and Mark Outlaw.

"This is a very tough piece," Vaillancourt said. "It was originally written for Nico's friends. It's very different from the premiere."

"I Shudder to Think" is "a very awkward piece," Muhly said. "It's very fast, very aggressive, very dream music."

He started composing when he was 12, he said, after being a pianist and singer.

While music was important to him, Muhly said he didn't want to go to a music conservatory because students tend to just think about music.

He'll perform, but he says he just likes to sit back and listen.

Muhly will be talking to the CSU percussion students.

"I never really was one," he said of the music students he'll talk to. But because he's just a few years older than the students, he hopes to be helpful and offer "considered advice."

He's looking forward to coming to Columbus because it's somewhere he's never been before.

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