Seven Pillars will be an evening-length work for percussion quartet and video, with music composed by Andy Akiho, visuals created by Michael McQuilken, and performed by Sandbox Percussion. The work will consist of seven ensemble movements - each inspired by one of the Japanese Seven Gods of Fortune – and one solo for each member of Sandbox. The piece will be designed such that each movement flows continuously into the next without pause. Director and filmmaker Michael McQuilken will create an original video that blends depictions of the Seven Gods of Fortune with live close-up video of Sandbox performing the piece. He will also design the layout of the instruments on stage, as well as choreograph the transitions between movements.
This will be Akiho’s first extended work for percussion instruments alone. In Seven Pillars, he will create new timbres on well-known instruments (a glockenspiel is played with timbale sticks, giving it a hyper-articulate attack with bell-like resonance), as well as write music for found sounds and unorthodox instruments (a chromatic octave of tuned ceramic rice bowls played with chopsticks). Akiho wrote Pillar IV, one of the ensemble movements, as well as the glockenspiel solo, in 2014. The remainder of the work will be completed by early 2020.
Andy Akiho, Michael McQuilken, and Ian Rosenbaum of Sandbox have developed several multimedia projects together since 2011, and Seven Pillars will be the culmination of those previous collaborations.
Project: Seven Pillars for percussion quartet
Composer: Andy Akiho
Video Artist: Michael McQuilken
Performers: Sandbox Percussion, percussion quartet (Ian Rosenbaum, Jonathan Allen, Terry Sweeney, Victor Caccese)
Duration: Approximately 75 minutes
Premiere: April 2020, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
Andy Akiho: Described as "mold-breaking," "alert and alive," "dramatic," and "vital" by The New York Times, Andy Akiho is an eclectic composer and performer of contemporary classical music. Recent engagements include commissioned premieres by the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and Carnegie Hall's Ensemble Connect; a performance with the LA Phil’s Green Umbrella series; and four concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Akiho has been recognized with awards including the 2014-15 Luciano Berio Rome Prize, the 2015 Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund, a 2014 Fromm Foundation Commission from Harvard University, the 2014 American Composers Orchestra Underwood Emerging Composers Commission, a 2014 Chamber Music America (CMA) Grant with the Friction Quartet and Jenny Q Chai, a 2012 CMA Grant with Sybarite5, the 2012 Carlsbad Composer Competition Commission for the Calder Quartet, and the 2011 Finale & ensemble eighth blackbird National Composition Competition Grand Prize. Additionally, his compositions have been featured on PBS's "News Hour with Jim Lehrer" and by organizations such as Bang on a Can, American Composers Forum, and The Society for New Music.
Michael McQuilken: Works professionally across several fields, recently as a director (of opera, stage, and film), as a writer (for stage and screen), as a video editor and FX artist, and as a composer and producer of music. Recent projects include the new opera ANGEL'S BONE (created with Du Yun, recipient of the 2016 Pulitzer prize for this project), THE INFINITE HOTEL (Michael's original Live Film and rock musical, co-composed with Amanda Palmer -- to make its NYC premiere this coming January at the PROTOTYPE festival), EPIPHANY (a large-scale immersive concert that premiered at BAM, NYC, in 2015), the original play OCTOBER IN THE CHAIR (made in collaboration with Neil Gaiman and Michael's performance ensemble, OLD SOUND ROOM in 2015). Michael also designed the entirety of the visual content for a recent live concert festival helmed by hiphop artist, DRAKE. He has entered into the commercial sphere as a high-end video editor and FX artist after self-teaching himself the tools of the trade over a 4-year period of making dozens of music videos for local bands and classical musicians. Michael is currently producing and arranging a full-length record for LA based singer, ANNABEL LEE.
Sandbox Percussion: Lauded by The Washington Post as “revitalizing the world of contemporary music” with “jaw- dropping virtuosity,” Sandbox Percussion has established themselves as a leading proponent in this generation of contemporary percussion chamber music. Brought together by their love of chamber music and the simple joy of playing together, Sandbox Percussion captivates audiences with performances that are both visually and aurally stunning. Through compelling collaborations with composers and performers, Jonathan Allen, Victor Caccese, Ian Rosenbaum and Terry Sweeney seek to engage a wider audience for classical music. This season, Sandbox will collaborate with The Industry, an opera company in Los Angeles, for the world premiere of Galileo by Andy Akiho. Other highlights will include a performance of Gyorgy Ligeti’s Síppal, dobbal, nádihegedüvel with mezzo-soprano Elspeth Davis at the Percussion Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis, IN, and a West Coast tour including 11 performances from Seattle to Los Angeles. Sandbox Percussion endorses Pearl/Adams musical instruments, Vic Firth drumsticks and Remo drumheads.