To be premiered by Sandbox Percussion in Seattle, Washington’s Emerald City Music on December 3, 2021; an ambitious expansion of classic American percussion writing that, in 11 movements, mixes sensuous timbres, an agile grasp of rhythm, and a wide breadth of international influences.
Seven Pillars is an 80-minute, 11-movement suite for percussion that was commissioned by and is dedicated to Sandbox Percussion.
It consists of seven quartets centred on four solos that showcase the unique talents of each performer.
Both a symmetrical/palindromic structure on either side of the core movement and an additive process in which each movement introduces a new instrument work together to form the macro-structure.
One Composer, Four Players, ‘Seven Pillars’
Seven Pillars’ eight-year odyssey began in 2013, and on December 3, 2021, Sandbox Percussion presented the world premiere of the whole suite at Seattle, Washington’s Emerald City Music.
This piece was written more for the performers than the instruments because of how close to home its inspirations are. Duke Ellington has always been an inspiration of mine since he wrote music specifically for the artists in his orchestras, such Cat Anderson and Juan Tizol.
Although I have a personal tale that matches my life path, I have purposefully avoided giving a precise narrative for this work so that the listener can experience the music on their own quest.
Pillars I–VII, Pillars III–V, and Pillars V–VI all share melodic structural, temporal, scalar, and motivic aspects from the past; these seven quartets (Pillars I–VII) are extroverted and inspired by architecture.
With the freeform and intuitive solos, I looked inward to reflect my personality and the inspiring musical identities of the members of Sandbox: Jonny Allen, who introduces the first melodic material and kaleidoscopic timbres in “Amethyst;” Terry Sweeney, who personifies the lyricism and harmonic landscapes in “Marimba;” Victor Caccese, who personifies the rhythmic intensity and extremely dance-like virtuosity in “carTo They’ve become like family to me over the years, and I wanted to make a piece that reflected both our shared experiences and my own development as a composer in quest of a unique sound.
The groundbreaking piece Seven Pillars by Andy Akiho and performed by Sandbox Percussion will revolutionise the way people listen to and experience music. All of the songs on this genre-bending album have accompanying music videos that create a seamless whole.
Andy Akiho is a composer and performer of new music who has been nominated for a GRAMMY® and praised as “trailblazing”.
New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony, China Philharmonic, Guangzhou Symphony, Oregon Symphony (with Colin Currie as soloist), American Composers Orchestra, Music@Menlo, Sandbox Percussion, Chamber Music Northwest, Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, LA Dance Project, and experimental opera company The Industry have all recently performed premieres of works commissioned by the composer.
Among the many honours bestowed upon Akiho are the Rome Prize, the Lili Boulanger Memorial Prize, the Fromm Commission at Harvard University, the Barlow Endowment, New Music USA, and Chamber Music America.
His works have also been presented by Bang on a Can, the American Composers Forum, The Intimacy of Creativity in Hong Kong, and the Heidelberg Festival, as well as on PBS’s “News Hour with Jim Lehrer.” His most recent work, Seven Pillars, was performed by Sandbox Percussion and was nominated for two GRAMMY® Awards.
Akiho is not just a prolific composer, but also an active steel pannist. His music has been featured in four concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, as well as performances by the Charlotte Symphony, South Carolina Philharmonic, Nu Decco Ensemble, LA Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella Series, the Berlin Philharmonic’s Scharoun Ensemble, and the International Drum Festival in Taiwan.
Brilliantly created works with complicated rhythms and exotic timbres inspired by Akiho’s primary instrument, the steel pan, may be heard on his albums No One To Know One (innova Recordings) and The War Below (National Sawdust Tracks).
Portland, Oregon is home for Akiho, who was born in Columbia, South Carolina.