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Egg Soldiers at St Alfege’s – Trinity Laban Percussion give dynamic lunchtime concert

Mon 15 Oct 2018

The Trinity Laban Percussion Department gave a thrilling lunchtime concert at St Alfege Church, boldly programmed with three out of its five works written in the 21st century.

The performances were compered by Trinity Laban percussion professor and ENO principal percussionist Mick Doran.

Trinity Laban BMus Composition alumnus and Press/PR intern Will Howarth reports -

The concert opened with Red, the world premiere of a commission for the ensemble by 3rd year composer Toby Ingram. The deceptively simple clarity of instrumental timbres and unadorned marimba chords belied the complexity of its intricately inter-locking parts. An insistent shaker introduced the pulse, accumulating fragments of rhythmic counterpoint from the other instruments until a compelling groove had been assembled before the audience’s ears. 

Four of the 1st year percussionists then gave a performance of alumnus Litha Efthymiou’s Egg Soldiers, a piece for eight egg shakers. With arms out-stretched and a shaker in each hand, poised and ready to play as if standing to attention in a military drill, they began a marching rhythm, manipulating the eggs to produce snare-like rolls. Rhythmic accents passed distinctly from hand to hand and player to player across the row, building in intensity as the players began a sequence of throwing and catching. The second phase of the piece used metallic egg-cups, the rims rubbed together in circular motion to produce a bright and dynamic sound world, punctuated by more percussive clacking outbursts. Egg Soldiers was impressive for its surprisingly varied and inventive array of musical material, produced with limited instrumental resources, performed deftly by the players.

The next piece, Splendid Wood, written by Pulitzer Prize and two-time Grammy-winning American composer Jennifer Higdon, was a tour-de-force for three marimbas and six players. The piece was inspired by the properties of wood, the off-beat patterns of its grain and the relation of its constituent strata to the whole. Technically challenging though charmingly accessible, Splendid Wood was a vibrant, rippling tapestry of organically evolving gentle dissonances, warm resonances and entrancing grooves.

A late addition to the programme was 3rd Year percussionist Connor Chambers’ arrangement of Debussy’s Clair de Lune for two marimbas which he performed alongside fellow 3rd Year Rory Clark, lending an unexpectedly exotic flavour to a much-played classic in celebration of the centenary of the composer’s death.

Finally, after being lulled into a Debussian trance, the audience were brought hurtling back to reality as the whole ensemble performed Percussive Dances,a rip-roaring arrangement of selected music from Bernstein’s West Side Story. St Alfege’s Church practically shook with the blazing energy of a Puerto Rican carnival, the sheer vitality of twelve percussionists in consort rivalling the ebullience of Bernstein’s original orchestral arrangements.

The vivid opening salvo of Mambo, teaming with scrapers and shakers and decorated with riotous timbale rolls, was followed by a procession of familiar melodies in unfamiliar guises – Cool on glockenspiel, Tonight on marimba. The piece culminated in a dazzling rendition of America, its irresistible rhythm passing at breakneck speed around the ensemble. This was so well-received by the audience, heads bobbing in the pews, that an encore was needed to quell the uninhibited applause.

 

St Alfege Church hosts weekly lunchtime concerts from 13.05h on Thursdays. Here are some of the upcoming performances not to be missed:

THU 18 OCT 13.05h

Trinity Laban Musical Theatre Department presents: Best of British

Let the Trinity Laban Musical Theatre Department guide you through a lunchtime celebration of British Musical Theatre composers, lyricists, arrangers and producers ranging from the late 1800s right through to the 21st Century. Expect well-known classics, sure to get you singing along, beside a few hidden gems you may not recognise. 

 

THU 25 OCT

12.15h Concert and a Cuppa, an informal pre-concert talk with Trinity Laban students about the composers and their pieces

13.05h Trinity Laban String Ensemble conducted by Nic Pendlebury

Edward Elgar Serenade for Strings in E minor, Op. 20
Errollyn Wallen Photography, Movement I
Grazyna Bacewicz Concerto for String Orchestra
TBC New commission

 

THU 1 NOV 13.05h

Trinity Laban Harp Department

Join us for a varied programme of repertoire led by Gabriella Dall’Olio.

 

For more lunchtime concert dates and information, keep an eye on our What’s On page.