Michael Gordon: Timber & Rushes | Durham Fruit Company | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
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Michael Gordon: Timber & Rushes 

When: April 22-23, 8 p.m. 2016
Phone: 919-660-3357
Email: tickets@duke.edu
Price: $10-$22
dukeperformances.duke.edu/calendar/michael-gordon-%E2%80%A2-timber-rushes

FRIDAY, APRIL 22–SATURDAY, APRIL 23

MICHAEL GORDON'S TIMBER AND RUSHES

The last century of music has seen the rise of a small but strong repertoire of pieces for choirs of single instruments: Heitor Villa-Lobos's Bachianas Brasileiras for cellos, Steve Reich's New York Counterpoint for clarinets, and Julia Wolfe's Lad for bagpipes. These are tricky, exciting ensembles, each with a surprising amount of expressive power. Bang on a Can cofounder Michael Gordon has written two works for masses of single instruments, Timber and Rushes, both of which feature unusually potent instruments.

Timber is exactly what its name suggests. The 2009 piece features six wooden simantras, Eastern Orthodox liturgical instruments that are essentially slabs of wood. These boards create the most amazingly hypnotic sound world, built around the wood's hollow resonance. Each of the six instruments is tuned differently, and Gordon has the players (Mantra Percussion, in this case) gradually change where they strike the instrument, subtly shifting the pitch and sound character. It's not unlike running your hands across the columns of a banister, except it's continuous and all encompassing.

Written in 2011, Rushes is the younger sibling to Timber. It, too, features a relentless wash of notes to create unexpectedly delightful textures, this time for seven bassoons. Gordon talks about the "heft" of the instrument and its "primal" buzz, its ability to create "the aural effect of a Seurat painting." And like the work of that pointillist master, this creation will vanish if you look too closely. Focus, instead, on the wash of sound, an extended om that extends forever downward. —Dan Ruccia

DURHAM FRUIT AND PRODUCE COMPANY, DURHAM 8 p.m., $10–$22, dukeperformances.duke.edu

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