by TV News Desk, Broadway World
On Thursday, February 13, 2020, the New York-based ensemble Sandbox Percussion releases Andy Akiho's Haiku 2 as a music video and single from its debut album, And That One Too (Coviello Classics).
A central tenet of Sandbox Percussion's mission as an organization is to collaborate with composers over long periods of time to write music that stretches the boundaries of what is possible with percussion - both technically and expressively. Akiho's Haiku 2 was originally scored for trumpet, trombone, bass clarinet, and baritone voice (for the ensemble Loadbang in 2011) but is presented here for the first time in a version for tuned ceramic bowls, metal pipes, wooden slats, a metal pot lid, a glass bottle, and a piece of scrap metal. Akiho and Sandbox Percussion developed this arrangement during a residency at Avaloch Farm Music Institute in 2018.
Sandbox Percussion's Ian Rosenbaum explains of the piece, "This work has no text, but it observes the 5-7-5 form of a haiku musically. The rhythmic structure of each measure consists of a group of 5 sixteenth notes, then a group of 7, then another group of 5. The larger metric structure is also based on the 5-7-5 of a haiku - the material is played 5 times, then 7 times, and then 5 again. When one returns to the beginning of the cycle again, each player in turn leaves their pitched instrument and moves to an unpitched sound, until by the end, all that is left is a dense hocket among the four players."
Akiho is currently in the process of writing Seven Pillars for SandboxPercussion- a 75-minute work, the most expansive chamber music piece of his career thus far.
Released on Friday, February 28, 2020, Sandbox Percussion's debut album And That One Too also includes works by David Crowell (Music for Percussion Quartet - with Crowell on guitar) Amy Beth Kirsten (she is a myth - with Kirsten on vocals), and Thomas Kotcheff (not only that one but that one & that too). More information about the album: www.sandboxpercussion.com/albums.
On February 28, 2020 at 8pm, Sandbox Percussion celebrates the release with a concert at National Sawdust in Brooklyn (80 N. 6th Street) performing selections from the album - including Akiho's Haiku 2 - and more. Tickets and information: www.nationalsawdust.org/event/sandbox-percussion.
About Sandbox Percussion: Described as "virtuosic and utterly mesmerizing" by The Guardian, 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.
In the 2018-2019 season, Sandbox Percussion presented more than 30 performances throughout the United States and made their United Kingdomdebut at the Vale of Glamorgan festival in Cardiff where they premiered a new work by Benjamin Wallace for percussion quartet and fairground organ. Sandbox presented four separate programs of music by John Luther Adams at Storm King Art Center, Tippet Rise Art Center, Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, and the String Theory concert series in Chattanooga, TN. Sandbox performed Viet Cuong's Re(new)al with the Albany Symphony and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra as well as premiered a wind ensemble version of the work with the Brooklyn Wind Symphony. Sandbox collaborated with actor and writer Paul Lazar on a portrait concert of music by John Cage at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, and gave three sold out performances of Music for Eighteen Musicians with Emerald City Music in Seattle, WA.
In addition to keeping a busy concert schedule Sandbox has also participated in various masterclasses and coachings at schools such as the Peabody Conservatory, Curtis Institute, the University of Southern California, Kansas University, Cornell University, and Furman University. While there they coached students on some of the most pivotal works in the percussion repertoire including Steve Reich's Drumming, György Ligeti's,Síppal, Dobbal, Nádihegedüvel and John Cage's Third Construction. These teaching experiences have inspired the quartet to pursue a role of pedagogy and mentorship for today's young generation of musicians. This season Sandbox Percussion will present the fifth annual NYU Sandbox Percussion Seminar. This week long seminar invites percussion students from across the globe to rehearse and perform some of today's leading percussion chamber music repertoire. A culminating performance is held at the iconic Brooklyn venue, National Sawdust.
Composition has been an ongoing interest for Sandbox Percussion. Jonathan Allen and Victor Caccese have collectively composed six pieces for the quartet. Sandbox has also worked closely with composer David Crowell on a marimba arrangement of his saxophone sextet, Point Reyes. Sandbox Percussion has collectively arranged and composed works with Dutch-American DJ, Scumfrog and will present a collection of new works in the coming concert season.
In the Spring of 2020, Sandbox will premiere Seven Pillars, a new evening-length work by composer and steel pan virtuoso, Andy Akiho at the Mondavi Center in Davis, CA. Having frequently performed the middle movement, Pillar IV, this new work will feature seven movements for the quartet and four solo movements. Sandbox Percussion will present a performance at the Dumbarton Oaks concert series where they will premiere a new work by composer, Viet Cuong as well as a string quartet version of his concerto Re(new)al. They will also return to the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts where they will premiere a new work by Christopher Cerrone in collaboration with pianist Conor Hanick. Other premieres this season will include works by Bora Yoon, Jessica Meyer, Julian Wachner, and Matthew Evan Taylor. Sandbox Percussion endorses Pearl/Adams musical instruments, Vic Firth drumsticks, Remo drumheads, Zildjian Cymbals, and Black Swamp accessories.
About Andy Akiho: Described as "trailblazing" (Los Angeles Times) and "an imaginative composer" (The New York Times), Andy Akiho is a composer and performer of new music. Recent engagements include commissioned premieres by the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, China Philharmonic Orchestra, Guangzhou Symphony, Oregon Symphony with Soloist Colin Currie, American Composers Orchestra, Music@Menlo, Carnegie Hall's Ensemble Connect, LA Dance Project, and the experimental opera company The Industry.
Akiho has been recognized with many awards including the Rome Prize, Lili Boulanger Memorial Prize, Harvard University Fromm Commission, the American Composers Orchestra, Carlsbad Commission for the Calder Quartet, Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, and Chamber Music America. Additionally, his compositions have been featured on PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and by organizations such as Bang on a Can, American Composers Forum, The Intimacy of Creativity in Hong Kong, and the Heidelberg Festival.
Akiho is also an active steel pannist and performs his compositions with various ensembles worldwide. He has performed his works with the Charlotte Symphony, South Carolina Philharmonic, Grand Rapids Symphony, Nu Deco Ensemble, LA Philharmonic's Green Umbrella Series, the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic, Miyamoto is Black Enough, the International Drum Festival in Taiwan, and has had four concerts featuring his compositions at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Akiho's recordings No One To Know One (innova Recordings) and The War Below (National Sawdust Tracks) features brilliantly crafted compositions that pose intricate rhythms and exotic timbres inspired by his primary instrument, the steel pan. Akiho was born in 1979 in Columbia, SC, and is currently based in New York City and Portland, OR.
1. Andy Akiho: Haiku 2 (2011; rev. 2018)
"This work has no text, but it observes the 5-7-5 form of a haiku musically. The rhythmic structure of each measure consists of a group of 5 sixteenth notes, then a group of 7, then another group of 5. The larger metric structure is also based on the 5-7-5 of a haiku - the material is played 5 times, then 7 times, and then 5 again. When one returns to the beginning of the cycle again, each player in turn leaves their pitched instrument and moves to an unpitched sound, until by the end, all that is left is a dense hocket among the four players.
Andy Akiho and I met in grad school in 2010, and I've played nearly every piece that he's ever written for percussion. Right now, he's in the process of writing Seven Pillars for Sandbox - a 75-minute work, the most expansive chamber music piece of his career thus far. Haiku 2 is a piece that he originally wrote for Loadbang, and we arranged it for Sandbox during a Seven Pillars residency about a year and a half ago." - Ian Rosenbaum
[2-5] David Crowell: Music for Percussion Quartet (2015) (with David Crowell, guitar)
2. I - Fluctuation
3. II - Sky
4. III - Oscillation
5. IV - Landscape
"Music for Percussion Quartet draws inspiration from the radically different environments I've lived in and experienced while traveling. The first and third movements, Fluctuation and Oscillation, both utilize polyrhythms throughout. Parts are interconnected, even as the clarity of their relationships blur and shift in focus. In a busy urban environment, individual agendas and varying rates of movement mirror the independent/co-dependent nature of this polyrhythmic interaction. Sky and Landscape, on the other hand, come from the meditative calm of spacious, pure environments. These movements suggest a place for contemplation in quiet spaces of the mind. I have experienced this perspective most vividly when climbing mountains, looking up at the sky and out on to the landscape." - David Crowell
"David Crowell wrote Celestial Sphere, a piece for marimba and electronics, for a consortium of percussionists that included a few of us in Sandbox back in 2013. He wrote the work on this album, Music for Percussion Quartet in 2015 after workshopping the elements in it extensively with us, and has since written us another percussion quartet." - Ian Rosenbaum
6. Amy Beth Kirsten: she is a myth (2017) (with Amy Beth Kirsten, vocals)
"she is a myth was originally commissioned for three percussion and three voices by the Riot Ensemble with generous support from London Arts Council. Sandbox Percussion, who also premiered the 90-minute work QUIXOTE, commissioned this version for three voices and percussion quartet in 2019." - Amy Beth Kirsten
"I first met Amy Beth Kirsten while I was in an undergrad at Peabody, and Sandboxstarted to play music of hers as part of her theatrical ensemble HOWL in 2013. In 2017, we collaborated with her on Quixote, a 90-minute theatrical work for Sandbox and 3 singers. she is a myth was an early piece written for Quixote as it was being developed. It didn't end up being a part of the show, and we're thrilled to be able to release it here. Amy sings all 3 vocal parts on this recording." - Ian Rosenbaum
[7-9] Thomas Kotcheff not only that one but that one & that too (2016)
7. Part I
8. Part II
9. Part III
"not only that one but that one & that too is divided into three large parts which each focus on a different family of percussion instruments: wood, skins, and metal. A majority of the piece's direct inspiration came from Sandbox Percussion themselves. All the instruments were drawn from the list of instruments that Sandbox Percussion had in their studio and I aimed to write unique music for each specific player within the ensemble - Victor on percussion 1, Jonny on percussion 2, Terry on percussion 3, and Ian on percussion 4. Every moment of the piece that has an idiosyncratic solo of some kind was written with that person in mind." - Thomas Kotcheff
"Thomas Kotcheff is another friend of ours from undergraduate school. He wrote his first piece for us in 2012, the second in 2014, and finally the work on this album, not only that one but that one & that too in 2016. This work represents the culmination of our years of friendship and collaboration - it's a 30-minute piece in 3 sections, and was truly written for the 4 of us. Each of us has solo moments in the piece that represent aspects of our individual personalities in Thomas' eyes, and the instruments involved in the piece - from the exact number of drums in movement 2 to the pitch content of the metallic instruments in movement 3 - were selected by Thomas during trips to our rehearsal studio in Brooklyn." - Ian Rosenbaum
Total Time 53:17
Coviello Classics, 2020 | COV 91918 | Produced by Moritz Bergfeld, Aaron Holloway-Nahum and Olaf Mielke
Tracks 1, 6-9: Seymour St. John Chapel, Wallingford CT. 12-14 March 2019
Produced, Edited, Mixed and Mastered by Aaron Holloway-Nahum
Tracks 2-5: Good Child Music Studios, Brooklyn NY. 5-6 May 2018
Produced and Edited by Lawson White, Mixed by David Crowell
Additional Mixing, Mastering by Aaron Holloway-Nahum
Art Direction & Design: Aaron Holloway-Nahum
Digipak and Booklet Cover: Ben Clube