The work consists 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 is designed such that each movement flows continuously into the next without pause. Director and filmmaker Michael McQuilken is currently working to 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.
In Seven Pillars, Akiho has created 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. This is his first extended work for percussion instruments alone.
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.