From the shaken tower
symphony for percussion and winds
Organizing conductor: Reed Thomas, Middle Tennessee State University
A new consortium commission for percussion ensemble and winds, From the Shaken Tower: Symphony for Percussion and Winds, was completed in late 2014. Based on a poem by English writer and suffragist Alice Meynell (1847-1922), the work will explore the incredible variety of textures and colors achievable with percussion coupled with the lyrical/choral power of winds and brass. A second inspiration source is the exquisite setting of "O Magnum Mysterium" by Renaissance composer Tomas de Victoria (see YouTube recording at right) which is liberally quoted and transformed throughout the work.
Although similar to a concerto grosso in concept, the work is closer to a symphony or tone poem in execution. The difficulty of the soli parts is intended for skilled undergraduate percussionists. Further, the work seeks to explore the lyrical and sonorous nature of percussion over virtuosic playing (particularly in the first two movements).
Three movements will explore each of the short stanzas of the poem: beginning with delicate, rustling sounds from instruments such as sleigh bells and maracas; moving to dark, sustained sounds from bowing and similar friction techniques; and concluding with jubilant drums and metals in a furious dance.
"chimes" / alice meynell
BRIEF on a flying night,
From the shaken tower,
A flock of bells take flight,
And go with the hour.
Like birds from the cote to the gales,
A fleet of bells set sails,
And go to the dark.
Sudden the cold airs swing:
A verse of bells takes wing
And flies with the cloud.
Victoria / o magnum mysterium