One of the most versatile and in-demand percussionists in the UK, Joby Burgess is renowned for his virtuosic performances, daring collaborations and extensive educational work. Spending much of his time commissioning and recording new music, he is dedicated to the development of the percussion repertoire, often in combination with electronics.
At the RNCM, Burgess will perform a non-stop soundtrack of 20th century classics, arrangements and new works from the East and West Coasts of the US. First up is his Marimba Quartets – three arrangements of choral works by Eric Whitacre. Entitled Lux Aurumque, October and Sleep, these short pieces position four players at two marimbas in a wonderful showcase of the instrument’s warm, earthy tones.
Next, we’ll hear two pieces by John Cage: First Construction in Metal and Credo in Us. The first was composed in 1938 and was the world’s introduction to Cage’s now-famed technique of composing using fixed rhythmic structures. The more satirical Credo in Us, meanwhile, was written to accompany a piece of contemporary dance choreographed by Cage’s longtime collaborator Merce Cunningham and choreographer Jean Erdman.
After the interval comes a frosty and frenetic piece composed for Burgess and his collective by Irish composer and musician, Linda Buckley. Entitled Discordia, this features the haunting sound of the Canna Sonora – a ‘harp’ made up of tuned aluminium tubes, which its performer strokes whilst wearing rosin-coated gloves.
And finally, we’ll hear a piece with which you’ll likely be familiar: Terry Riley’s landmark 1964 work, In C. With only one page of score, no specified instrumentation, 53 motives, no evident form, sparse instructions and no tempo mark, this unlikely piece stands as one of the great masterworks in the Western canon. For this performance, RNCM students will join Joby and his collective on stage, employing a startling array of percussion and pianos.
What’s more, in between these two sets, the music won’t stop. After grabbing a drink from the bar, you’re free to wander back into the hall, where Linda Buckley will perform a short DJ set. Steve Reich’s tape piece Come Out will then be played, before Joby and his collective return to the stage. What more could we ask for?