The year ended with a serendipitous, ironic parallel that would’ve been laughed off a piece of creative writing as “too heavy-handed”.
On the 13th, All endings are sad, all endless things are impossible to bear saw its second outing. Again by the brilliant Sond’Ar-te Electric Ensemble (who commissioned it), again at their homestead O’culto da Ajuda, in Lisbon; this time around, however, at the hands of the brilliant percussionist and champion of contemporary music Pedro Carneiro.
The original performance had been great, but this second one, a year after, grew considerably in all the good kinds of both looseness and tightness. A reminder of the way we need to allow pieces to grow and take root in those who play them and hear them — very much against the grain of today’s rhythm.
And then, just before New Year’s, it was the première of Things are lazy but want to be free, for seven percussionists — entirely unaware that I had already expounded on the behavior of things (whatever those things may be) in a piece title less than a year ago. The première took place at the final concert of this year’s Festival Itinerante de Percussão, conducted by the brilliant… percussionist and, err, champion of contemporary music Nuno Aroso.
The festival featured some of today’s leading percussionists in Portugal in their capacity as teachers and department heads of our institutions of higher learning — as well as a bevy of contemporary music! There might not be a better place for a composer than a percussion festival: percussionists were always happy and willing partners-in-crime of advances in the music throughout the 20th century, and that ethos is very much still alive. In fact, despite the fact that I was working with university-level players, I left rehearsal having learned a thing or two, with a couple new additions to my bag of tricks in ways I definitely didn’t when working with top-level ensembles in a pedagogical setting during my own training.