Alex Stopa is a drummer, percussionist, marimba soloist, and composer based in Las Vegas; chances are, he has played for you if you are a local. An active member of our community, he has performed at every type of gig. From the Create Our Recovery concert series in vaccine clinics to the open air of Water Street to the Smith Center, he brings the beat that keeps us grooving. Born in Australia, Stopa moved to Las Vegas in 2001, where he has since performed for a wide variety of musical acts, including the Las Vegas Philharmonic, Cirque du Soleil, Le Rêve, resident and touring Broadway musicals, and headliner acts, including Aretha Franklin, The Who, Amy Grant, Idina Menzel, and Placido Domingo. His original compositions and arrangements reflect his diversity as a performer. Drawing inspiration from classical, jazz, pop, rock, and world music, his music blurs the lines between genres, and his pieces are performed frequently around the world.
Spiral is an original composition for a percussion quartet that fuses classical, pop, and jazz styles. Stopa writes of the piece, “As a musician living in Las Vegas, I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to perform a broad range of musical styles. One night I might be in the Smith Center with the Philharmonic or a touring Broadway show; the next, I might be in a jazz or rock club. The music that I write is inspired by this diversity.
Spiral was composed for the Pana Percussion Quartet, a group that I’ve performed for over a decade. I remember reading that Duke Ellington would often write music tailored to the individual strengths of his band members. As I composed Spiral, I kept this in mind, writing parts that I hoped would reflect the personalities of the group.
The piece is built around a repeated rhythmic motif: a pattern of five that can be heard on the vibraphone near the beginning of the piece. I imagined this spiraling pattern as the rhythmic DNA of the work; a musical double helix. This imagery formed the inspiration for the title”.
Pana Percussion Quartet is Alex Stopa, Ryun Louie, Jeffery Crowell, and Eliseo Rael.
In keeping with his local pride, Stopa chose Art Square Theatre in Downtown Las Vegas to shoot his video with a local film crew, including Emmy award-winning editor and director Michael Tushaus (Digisphere Productions) with cinematographer Tim Harbour and camera operator Gray Gubler. The recording engineer was Josh Connolly (Studio A), and mix engineer was Robby Wingfield. This project is supported in part by the Nevada Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.