Pioneers of Percussion

, United Kingdom

Joby Burgess, Pioneers of Percussion Credit: Nick White

Joby Burgess, the “insanely talented British percussionist” (Chicago Classical Music) is launching Pioneers of Percussion in 2016, a solo recital programme featuring works by the most creative composers of the 20th century including Toru Takemitsu, Iannis Xenakis, Morton Feldman, Arvo Pärt and new works by Nicole Lizée, Linda Buckley and Rebecca Dale. An aluminium harp, a typewriter, a giant steel sheet, loop pedals, an Angolan sheperding instrument, graphic scores, electronics and video will all feature in this revelatory programme from one of contemporary classical’s leading lights.

Toru Takemitsu’s ‘Seasons’ explores our changing weather and ecology with a delicate landscape of metallic melody and noise, featuring the aluminium harp. The aluminium harp or ‘Canna Sonora’, also known as the friction harp, is amongst the many instruments featured in Pioneers of Percussion. The instrument was first created in Al Capone’s 1927 Chicago, it’s resonating metal rods are precisely tuned, pure-toned and high-pitched in sound. It’s rarely heard - though it does feature on Jerry Goldsmith’s 1982 score for Poltergeist - and extraordinarily difficult to play.

Iannis Xenakis’ ‘Psappha’ is inspired by the abrasive rhythms taken from ancient Greek text - the music imitates the voice both rhythmically and melodically and it’s raw, loud, punchy and in-your-face. In sharp contrast, Morten Feldman’s King of Denmark is six minutes of delicate, barely-there ‘ppp’ (pianississimo) music which is so gentle it’s almost anti-percussion.

The three works by Toru Takemitsu, Iannis Xenakis and Morten Feldman all use graphic scores - special notation systems devised by each composer to symbolise the intended sounds. The scores are radically different from each other and also highly flexible in their interpretation.

Montreal - based Nicole Lizée, referred to as a musical scientist, contributes a new work with video, inspired by the glitches of outmoded and well - worn technology, including a typewriter. Linda Buckley, a young Irish composer, contributes a new work fusing live sounds and electronics. Burgess also plays a new work by award-winning young composer Rebecca Dale, his much celebrated ‘Carbon Copy’ written with Matthew Fairclough for the berimbau, an Ancient Angolan shepherding instrument and an arrangement of Arvo Pärt’s ‘Fratres’.


Toru Takemitsu Seasons
Iannis Xanakis Psappha
Morton Feldman King of Denmark
Nicole Lizée The Filthy Fifteen (world premiere)
Linda Buckley Ekstasis (world premiere)
Rebecca Dale Night Wonders (world premiere)
Joby Burgess/Matthew Fairclough Carbon Copy
Arvo Pärt Fratres


25 February 2016, 7.30pm
Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster Arts at Lancaster University

15 March 2016, 7.30pm
Capstone Theatre, Liverpool Hope University


Generously supported with funds from Arts Council England, Lancaster Arts and the Hinrichsen Foundation.

Pioneers of Percussion is produced by Powerplant and supported by Bell Percussion.

Powerplant is supported by PRS for Music Foundation.