This week sees the World Premiere of Andy Akiho’s Percussion Concerto, commissioned by the Oregon Symphony Orchestra as part of my Artist-In-Residence programme with that institution. Andy is a major contributor to the percussion literature and I encounter young players playing his work all over the world. I first met him via Chris Rouse, in 2011, at the Aspen Music Festival, and Chris was very enthusiastic about us meeting and getting some plans made together! I’m happy to say that we could share with him the news of our new concerto before he passed away last month. We remain very grateful for this introduction.
The Akiho is the 10th percussion concerto I have had written for me by an American composer. This spans back to Michael Torke’s Rapture in 2001 and spins through a fabulous mix of music, from Elliott Carter’s joyous, late modernity; Jennifer Higdon and Julia Wolfe’s unfettered energetic power; and on to the new young voices of composers such as Joe Pereira, Robert Honstein and Andrew Norman. It’s a wonderful collage of music and it has a firm place at the heart of the concerto repertoire. Andy’s concerto will be a wonderful new part of that texture and I look forward to many further performances of the work, both by myself and by other players who are drawn to his zesty, intense style.
I took a walk down memory lane to remember the wonderful American composers who have written concertos for me:
Michael Torke Rapture, 2001
Steve Mackey Time Release, 2005
Jennifer Higdon Percussion Concerto, 2005
Elliott Carter Two Controversies and a Conversation, 2011
Joe Pereira Percussion Concerto, 2012
Nico Muhly Double Standard, 2012
Julia Wolfe riSE and fLy, 2012
Andrew Norman Switch, 2015
Robert Honstein Juvenalia, 2019