In association with one of Austin's great art happenings, Big Medium's WEST, we're celebrating the end of our 5th season by giving two performances of what we consider to be the greatest piece of percussion music ever written, Iannis Xenakis's Pléïades. We’ll be joined by three of our good friends, Timothy Briones, Andrew Fuhrman and Eric Peterson, for this momentous 45-minute sextet. Each of the work's first three movements focuses on a specific family of percussion instruments, Métaux (metals), Claviers (keyboards) and Peaux (skins), while the final movement, Mélanges, combines all of the work's previous instrumentation. Of particular interest are the 19-keyed, microtonal metallophones called sixxen ('six' for the number of players, 'xen' for Xenakis) designed specifically for the work.
Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) was born in Romania to Greek parents. He participated in Greek Resistance movements during World War II, losing his left eye in a shell blast in January 1945. After arriving in Paris in 1947, Xenakis studied composition with Honegger and Milhaud and later with Messiaen from 1950-51. He famously worked as an architect for Le Corbusier from 1947-60, designing the Philips Pavilion for the 1958 Brussels World Fair. His first musical masterpiece, Metastasis (1953-4), sparked the beginning of a compositional career that placed him firmly in the pioneering generation of post-World War II composers who revolutionized 20th century music. Xenakis was one of the first to substitute radical new concepts of sound for traditional musical thinking. His developments had a profound impact on the next generation of composers, yet his music has remained singular for its energy and violence both exhilarating and disturbing.
‘Xenakis has developed a music of truly majestic otherness. It is an alien shard, glimmering in the heart of the West.’ – Ben Watson, The Wire