Thank you for joining us for LSO Summer Shorts.
We have been delighted to see live music return to LSO St Luke's as LSO musicians and friends have come together throughout July and August for a series of chamber-scale concerts.
We are very grateful for the bequest of the late Ms Denise Antenen and the generous support of our Technical Partner, Yamaha Professional Audio, which have made this series possible.
Whether in the Jerwood Hall or online, it is a pleasure to invite you to join us for the final performances of our Summer Shorts series. I hope you enjoy.
Chick Corea arr Simon Carrington Duet Suite
Gwilym Simcock Movements 2 & 3 from 'Suite for Percussion Quintet'
Gwilym Simcock Barber Blues
LSO Percussion Ensemble
Visit our website for information on how we are ensuring activity at our venue LSO St Luke’s is COVID-19 secure.
'It has been a privilege to be associated with Yamaha for nearly 20 years now …
It has always felt like belonging to a big family and I’ve met so many great people along the way.
Without Yamaha’s incredible support for the LSO Percussion Ensemble during its tour of Japan, concerts at LSO St Luke’s and subsequent LSO Live recording, we quite simply would not have been able to bring this wonderful project to fruition.
The Ensemble and LSO Live are indebted to Yamaha for their unfailing support, and to now see the broader LSO begin their journey with Yamaha, means exciting times ahead as two ‘greats’ of music come together!'
Neil Percy, LSO Principal Percussion and a Yamaha artist
Today's performance features an all-Yamaha instrument line-up, including Yamaha's flagship CFX Concert Grand Piano.
The support of our audience has truly never been more important for the Orchestra and its world-class artistic programme. By supporting us now and in the months to come, you will help us to continue to adapt our music-making and activities to meet the challenges of these times, including sharing the gift of music with our local communities through our LSO Discovery programme.
Today's Programme in 60 seconds
with the Ensemble
'We’re absolutely delighted to have you all with us for this exciting programme of music performed by the LSO Percussion Ensemble, all of which has been specifically written or arranged solely for the Ensemble.
Chick Corea’s fantastic composition Duet Suite receives a wonderful arrangement for mallet quartet by Simon Carrington. We also play two movements from Suite for Percussion Quintet, composed by our special guest and fellow performer Gwilym Simcock. All of these pieces feature on the Ensemble’s latest recording for LSO Live, Quartet Quintet, so we’re doubly thrilled to be playing this music for the first time since the album’s release in March!
It’s been an exciting musical adventure for us all to be working with Gwilym and seeing the amazing direction it has taken the group musically, so what better way to finish than with a well known piece of Gwil’s called Barber Blues, arranged beautifully for the Ensemble.
Wow, it’s great to be performing again at LSO St Luke's. We really hope you enjoy the musical journey with us!'
Talk to Us
Take part in the live Q&A at the end of the concert by posting your questions in the live chat on YouTube or tweeting us at @londonsymphony with the hashtag #LSOsummershorts.
Chick Corea arr Simon Carrington
In 1978, Chick Corea released an album with the vibraphone player Gary Burton called Duet. The two musicians were already pioneers of the ‘jazz duet’ format, in which two players would improvise together like two intellectuals locked in conversation. The aim in Duet was to go further: to use simpler, leaner material but make the conversation even more reactive and intense.
The album’s opening track, Duet Suite, is also its longest. It spins an extended, serpentine melody that isn’t flashy but frolics with decoration, conjuring up images of Corea’s ancestral Spain.
For a quarter of an hour, the two players weave this melody in stereo, shimmying and segueing into new spaces and atmospheres while ensuring the tautness of the conversation never lets up. At the vibraphone, Burton’s hands resemble a pianist’s fingers in their fluency.
This arrangement for percussion quartet gives the impression of the same music, but commandeered by a virtuosic octopus. The music remains structurally as it was when Corea and Burton recorded it. However, spread out across eight hands but on a single family of instruments, it becomes less of a conversation and more of a symposium.
Programme note by Andrew Mellor
Since embarking on a solo career in 1966, Chick has been at the forefront of jazz, both as a pianist forging new ground with his acoustic jazz bands and as an electric keyboardist with Return to Forever, the Elektric Band, and now the electro/acoustic Vigil. His discography boasts numerous albums, beginning with his 1968 classic Now He Sings, Now He Sobs.
A DownBeat Hall of Famer, NEA Jazz Master and 23-time Grammy winner, Chick's creative output spans five decades. He is the fourth-most-nominated artist in the history of the Grammys, with 65 nominations. He has also earned three Latin Grammy Awards, the most of any artist in the Best Instrumental Album category.
From straight ahead to avant-garde, bebop to fusion, children's songs to chamber music, along with some far-reaching forays into symphonic works, Chick has maintained a standard of excellence while covering numerous musical bases in his illustrious career. A tirelessly creative spirit, Chick continues to forge ahead, continually reinventing himself in the process.
Suite for Percussion Quintet
Movements 2 & 3
Neil Percy, founder of the LSO Percussion Ensemble, commissioned a new quintet from the jazz musician and composer Gwilym Simcock in 2018.
Faced with a free brief, the composer decided to write a piece inspired by some of his favourite jazz groups through the ages, including Weather Report, Yellowjackets and Steps Ahead.
‘I wanted to convey the energy and joy that these bands play with, as these two elements are definitely at the top of my list of musical priorities,’ wrote Simcock in 2019, when the piece was first performed.
In today's performance, we hear the second and third movements of a total of five.
Simcock’s own instrument, the piano, is the driving force – the focal point of a dense weave that pushes its way through various shape-shifting melodic and rhythmic setups and through a range of modes – the genomes of melodic construction.
The piano ends up more-or-less alone in Movement 2. Re-energised percussion then seize the initiative in Movement 3, pushing the now thickening conversation onto paths even more uneven, colourful and ecstatic.
Programme note by Andrew Mellor
Keep scrolling for Gwilym Simcock's composer biography.
In 2010, Gwilym Simcock joined four colleagues to form an Anglo-American jazz supergroup, The Impossible Gentlemen. Like Corea and Burton before them, they aimed to sharpen the improvisatory and interactive skills of each member.
Barber Blues comes from the 2013 album Internationally Recognised Aliens. Simcock has said that the piece has ‘absolutely nothing to do with having a bad haircut’. Rather, it is inspired by the American composer Samuel Barber and the technique deployed in his own Excursions for piano, published in 1945. In these pieces, Barber used accepted classical designs to write music inspired by regional American folk traditions.
Simcock’s fusion is of a Bach-style ‘Invention’ – a brief and propulsive piano work in which two or three lines are woven around each other in counterpoint – with a looping bass line structure associated with the blues, here extended to 16 bars.
The pianist’s left hand plays the looping ostinato – a repeated pattern – that forms the blues bedrock, while the right drops a ‘forceful and angular’ melody over it, inviting the other instruments to suggest their own versions in turn.
Programme note by Andrew Mellor
Winner of many awards for his playing and composition Gwilym Simcock moves effortlessly between jazz and classical, creating a sound that is very much his own. He works with orchestras, choirs, big bands, small ensembles and musicians from all areas of music including jazz, folk, pop and classical combining through-composed elements with improvisation.
Described as a pianist of ‘exceptional’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘dazzling’ ability, he is renowned for his solo performances, releasing a Barclaycard Mercury nominated solo album – Good Days at Schloss Elmau – on ACT in 2011, which was lauded as 'dazzlingly fresh', 'world class', 'stupendous', 'phenomenal', and 'a cause for huge celebration'. His music is widely acclaimed as 'engaging, exciting, often unexpected, melodically enthralling, complex yet hugely accessible', and above all 'wonderfully optimistic’.
LSO Percussion Ensemble
The LSO Percussion Ensemble comprises members of the London Symphony Orchestra’s percussion section as well as distinguished orchestral players with enviable reputations. If you are a classical music lover you will have heard them on countless LSO recordings as well as in the concert hall. The Ensemble enjoys an international following and embarked on a tour of Japan in 2018.
Their highly successful recording of music by Steve Reich for LSO Live has become the best-selling physical product on the label in the United States. Critics have been quick to praise this album with rave reviews. ‘The LSO percussion’s performance of Sextet builds up in energy and momentum to a quite thrilling climax.’ (Gramophone) ‘A wonderfully transparent weave through which the bowed vibe notes shine like rays of light through water.’ (BBC Music Magazine) ‘The performances and the recorded sound are so outstanding … unreservedly recommended.’ (HR Audio)
If you are a film buff, you will have heard these same players on the soundtracks of Star Wars, Harry Potter, Braveheart, Notting Hill, The Shape of Water and hundreds more movies for which the LSO has provided the music.
The LSO Percussion Ensemble’s live performance of Music for Pieces of Wood has also been licensed for use in season eight of AMC’s Walking Dead. All this takes place within the context of performing numerous concerts a year at the Barbican Centre as members of the London Symphony Orchestra, plus touring with the LSO around the world, with eminent conductors such as Bernard Haitink, Sir Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra’s Music Director Sir Simon Rattle.
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If you liked this, Neil suggests these albums…
- Gwilym Simcock's Good Days at Schloss Elmau or Perception
- Chick Corea and Gary Burton's Duet or Crystal Silence
- Joe Locke's Via or Signing
Plus hear the LSO Percussion Ensemble performing works by Makoto Ozone, Joe Locke and Steve Reich on their latest album release for LSO Live, Quartet Quintet.