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News - New Works for Percussion Ensemble!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Michael Gordon's Timber

Performance materials for Timber, Michael Gordon's evening-length piece for six graduated wooden simantras, are now available from the Music Sales Classical Rental Libraries. Click here for more information.

"aural hypnosis"
One of the most memorable classical performances of 2012 -- Alex Ross, The New Yorker

"Like Reich's Drumming and John Adams's Inuksuit, Timber is a watershed piece for a young generation of percussionists. It's not just an excellent new piece of percussion music, it changes the conversation." -- Steve Schick, percussionist

Scored for six graduated, amplified, wooden simantras (2x4s), Timber brings the physicality, endurance, and technique of percussion performance to a new level. In this work, Gordon shapes the music in both polyrhythmic and dynamic waves of textures so that each players' hands are often in separate rhythmic 'worlds', traversing different dynamic contours from loud to soft to loud. The piece is reminiscent of his solo for percussion, XY.

Much of Gordon's music demonstrates a deep exploration into the extreme possibilities and stunning nature of rhythm, as well as the enriching, yet disturbing, multidimensionality of polyrhythmic layers -- what has been termed in his music to be "glorious confusion." Timber was co-commissioned by the Dutch dance company Club Guy and Roni and the percussion ensembles Slagwerk den Haag and Mantra Percussion.

Per Norgard's En Lys time (A Light Hour)

A thrilling hour-long work for ten (or more!) percussionists, Per Norgard's En Lys Time calls for open instrumentation, as long as percussion is used within the three types specified in the score: skin, metal and wood. Each musician uses two sound sources with two different sounds, one of which is bright (or light) and the other dark. Certain passages also include tuned percussion instruments -- vibraphone, xylophone, marimba, gamelan, glockenspiel, steel drums, crotales and the like. Though rigorously structured, this is not a work that easily leads you through its logic or even though a discernible emotional journey. Instead it seems to exist for the moment and presents patterns to be appreciated as they pass.

Norgard created A Light Hour in 1986 as an hour-long improvisatory work and twenty-two years later he revisited the piece, notating it for 10 or more percussionists, specifying percussion types in general, but leaving the actual instrumentation to the discretion of the performers. The organizing structure of the piece is Norgard's "infinity series." He uses multiple layers of the same repeated four-measure pattern of two pitches, with high and low coinciding in the various layers, appearing at double or half tempo. The whole work reflects this symmetry, with four movements of approximately 15 minutes each, each divided into four subsections, which are divided into four smaller sections. Each microcosm provides the core material for the next three, and so on. Each section and subsection ends in a proportionally-sized "tone feast" based now on a four-pitch infinity series. By subtracting notes, perforating the line-changing stresses, tying notes, and utilizing other such devices, Norgard provides more than enough variety to maintain the listener's fascination and interest. Click here for more information

Other new works

Augusta Read Thomas's percussion quartet Resounding Earth
(scored for over 300 bells and pieces of metal)


John Harbison's percussion sextet Cortege

rock legend Stewart Copeland's Mikrokosmos and Gene Pool

Missy Mazzoli's percussion duo Volume

Nico Muhly's percussion quartet I Shudder to Think

Tan Dun's percussion quartet Water Music

Kevin Volans' percussion trio, Chakra

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