About the Project
'"As pure as music gets" - The New York Times
"an incredibly disciplined collective musical intelligence" - Seattle Times
"a lush, brooding celebration of noise” - The New York Times
Seven Pillars is an 11-movement concert piece for percussion quartet with music composed by Andy Akiho, performed by Sandbox Percussion, and with lighting and stage design created by Michael McQuilken. Since the release of the album in September 2021, Seven Pillars has received widespread acclaim, most notably receiving two nominations in the 2022 GRAMMY® Awards and selected as a finalist in the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
The work consists of seven ensemble movements and one solo for each member of Sandbox, developed through multiple extended residencies at Avaloch Farm Music Institute in New Hampshire. It is the largest-scale chamber music work that Akiho has written and that Sandbox has commissioned.
The piece is designed such that each movement flows continuously into the next without pause. Director and filmmaker Michael McQuilken has created an original lighting scheme seamlessly integrated with the music, as well as designing the layout of the instruments on stage and the choreography of 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 writing 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.
Akiho and Sandbox Percussion commissioned 11 video artists to create original films for Seven Pillars – one film for each movement of the work. These collaborative videos encompass the worlds of dance, animation, experimental narrative film, time-lapse, and more. They were released as a film anthology in October.
Andy Akiho, Michael McQuilken, and Ian Rosenbaum of Sandbox have developed several multimedia projects together since 2011, and Seven Pillars is the culmination of those previous collaborations.
The album Seven Pillars was released in September and has received 2022 GRAMMY nominations in both Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance and Best Contemporary Classical Composition categories.
About the Artists
For artist bios, click the images below