A percussion concerto written for an entire orchestral percussion section by composer Stewart Copeland will receive its world premiere on 23 May in Liverpool at the Philharmonic Hall. Poltroons in Paradise: Concerto for Percussion Section and Orchestra (2013) has been commissioned by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and following its first performance with chief conductor Vasily Petrenko will tour to Perth in Scotland and Dublin.
With world-wide recognition as the former drummer of The Police, Copeland’s knowledge of percussion is undisputed. Scored for timpani, three percussionists and full symphony orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s principal timpanist Neil Hitt, principal percussionist Graham Johns and fellow percussionists Adrian Spillett and Henry Baldwin will take centre stage for this work.
‘Poltroons in Paradise is the beginning of a story, the cheerful part, about those who ride in on the back of a revolution and then discover the temptations of those things against which they had revolted.
I’m imagining a cadre of starving, hitherto excluded intellectuals swaggering through the palace of the fallen regime. The chandeliers, the brocades and the gilded furniture all inspire a grand buffoonery that hides a sneaking desire.
Many composers would regard the mission of writing a percussion concerto as an opportunity to celebrate banging and clattering. A worthy cause no doubt, but there can be great beauty in things that are hit with a stick. And those satins really are quite beautiful… ’
Poltroons in Paradise is performed in the Liverpool Philharmonic’s electrifying 2013/14 season finale, Bringing Down the House. Following this concert, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall closes for a major refurbishment.
View the score online here
Stewart Copeland talks to BBC Radio 3 on the process of writing his percussion concerto here.