Matthew Duvall organizes the world premiere of a piece that features nearly 100 percussionists | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Matthew Duvall organizes the world premiere of a piece that features nearly 100 percussionists

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“Whisper” isn’t a word that usually springs to mind when one thinks of percussion, but with his diverse program “Whisper(s)” Eighth Blackbird percussionist Matthew Duvall actively explores quiet sounds and textures. He’s still willing to pound away on a piece like the ultraprecise and melodic “Binge Delirium” by Yu-Hui Chang, or Matthew Burtner’s “Broken Drum,” which gives a car’s discarded brake drum a workout while high-pitched electronics enhance the rapid thrum of a stick beating the inside, the player’s other hand damping the sounds. And on John Luther Adams’s “Wail” the performer generates an otherworldly swell of alien sounds with a hand-cranked siren. But the program’s second part pushes into more gentle territory with David Lang’s sparse solo piano meditation “Wed,” the rare Morton Feldman percussion piece “The King of Denmark,” and, with Third Coast Percussion joining in, John Cage’s “Inlets,” a series of small acoustic sounds derived from seashells and water. The final portion of the concert—open to all museum visitors—moves from the theater to the second- and fourth-floor galleries for the world premiere of Voice of the Winds by University of Chicago professor Marta Ptaszyńska, which features nearly 100 percussionists being conducted in small groups with the aid of wireless clickers to keep them in sync. The immersive notated work will spread throughout the museum’s stairwells and balconies, and the audience is encouraged to wander—Duvall told me via e-mail that “the performance will be different for everyone depending on where they choose to go.” A veritable who’s who of Chicago new-music groups will participate, including members of Beyond This Point, Mocrep, Latitude 49, Ensemble Dal Niente, and students from Loyola University, the Merit School of Music, and the Chicago High School for the Arts, among others.   v

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