Past event: Timber

Michael Gordon Timber

Percussion section of Aurora Orchestra
Percussionists from the Royal College of Music

To close the 2014 Kings Place Festival, Aurora’s percussion section teams up with musicians from the Royal College of Music to give the UK premiere performance of Michael Gordon’s hypnotic concert-length work Timber.

Scored for six amplified wooden Simantras – traditionally a Greek liturgical percussion instrument but in effect planks of 2×4 hardwood cut into graduating lengths to produce varying pitch – Timber is a complex five-part work which through a shifting of dynamics and accents from one instrument to the next, produces seamless and unified descending or ascending harmonic patterns. Through the positioning of the six percussionists, and by shifting the rhythmic emphasis between players, Gordon creates a sweeping sensation of sound moving around the room as different harmonics and overtones mix together. Aurora’s performance in Hall Two of Kings Place therefore offers a unique and immersive aural experience.

The piece tests the physicality, endurance and technique of each player, requiring an unusually long rehearsal period to perfect the complex cross-rhythms and dynamic variations that the work demands. Michael Gordon writes of the meditative quality of the piece; ‘I thought of composing this music as being like taking a trip out into the desert. I was counting on the stark palette and the challenge of survival to clear my brain and bring on visions.’

Read a blog post by Henry Baldwin (Aurora’s Principal Percussion) about bringing Timber to life on the Sound and Music Sampler Blog.

Part of the Kings Place Festival 2014


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