First, they performed Steve Reichs Mallet Quartet, followed in 2011 by Iannis Xenakis’ Pleiade. In 2012, Synergy Percussion brings you Masterpieces of Time, the third in their annual series called Giants.
Whilst the first two works in this series are admittedly significant works in the realm of new music, the repertoire in this third concert is not comparable in size and genre, but in concept.
The line up extends from Couperin and Bach to Ligeti, Cage and Radiohead, alongside traditional Korean music with which the ensemble has such strong links.
Artistic Director of Synergy Percussion, Timothy Constable, says that in Masterpieces of Time, the group “steps back from the epic, monolithic works presented over the last two years of the ‘Giants’ series, and offers some aural nourishment for the soul that is designed to leave the listener feeling spiritually cleansed.”
“Our heart is equally in the subtle and the quietly magnificent, and we see ourselves strongly as part of a continuum of fine music-making that stretches back a long way.”
Some of the music in this concerts pre-dates the instruments of Synergy Percussion by centuries. The ensemble’s creativity in curating this programme has extended to introducing Herr Bach, Monsieur Couperin and Mr Handel to the marimba, vibraphones, bells, gongs, mechanical music boxes, prepared piano and steel drums, carefully adapting the works of these Baroque masters to 21st century instruments. It doesn’t make the original versions obsolete, but keeps the music alive by giving it a new alternative guise. Bach’s Chaconne in D minor BWV 1004 was originally written for solo violin; Couperin’s Les Barricades Mysterieuses was intended for the harpsichord and Handel’s Chaconne in G HWV 435 was a keyboard piece also.
Constable says: “I think of the Bach Chaconne as the consummate antique Blues – not only in its optimism in the face of tragedy, but in its cyclic structure that goes deeper with every turn with a rigorous yet playful character.”
“This ‘meaning of the Blues’ infuses all of the works – from the antique, such as the East Coast shamanic percussion music from Korea that is perhaps thousands of years old, through to the new, like the Ligeti.”
An unusual addition to the sound mix of percussion is counter-tenor Tobias Cole. He will sing arrangements of two works by Claudio Monteverdi. From his magnificent early opera l’Orfeo, the aria Possente Spirto, a brooding and elegant work in which Orpheus, attempts to win favour with the boatman to gain passage across the River Styx to rescue his beloved Euridice. The music, emotions, words and ornamentation become increasingly elaborate and expressive as the aria progresses. Zefiro Torna, a later work by Monteverdi, is more spirited with a ground bass and the synergy frame drum orchestra providing the anchor.
The infusion of the east is also evident. Synergy Percussion has toured to Korea three times over the past 18 months. The Korean East Coast Shamanic Jing Music that they will perform dates back to ancient times when it would be played for a day at a time. This music is rhythmically challenging, based on 30 or 49 beat cycles, and mesmerising in its complex metric patterns.
Percussionist Timothy Constable is the Artistic Director of Synergy Percussion which has been performing for over three decades. Also in the ensemble are percussionists Joshua Hill, Bree van Reyk, Alison Pratt and Bob Scott who carries out the sound treatments.
Sydnergy Percussion’s Masterpieces of Time programme includes
F. Couperin Les Barricades Mysterieuses
J.S. Bach Chaconne in D minor BWV 1004
G.F. Handel Chaconne in G HWV 435
Korean East Coast Shamanic Jing Music
G. Ligeti Fanfares (Piano Etude no. 4)
A. Webern 5 pieces for String Orch mvts 2&4
J. Cage In a Landscape
J.S. Bach Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gott BWV 80
Monteverdi C Possente Spirto,
Tickets $25 – $65, School groups $15 per student
Book at www.cityrecitalhall.com or call (02) 8256 2222/ 1300 797 118. Additional fees may apply.