On 5 November Orkest De Ereprijs and percussionist Konstantyn Napolov premiere Tansy Davies’ Stone Codes for solo percussion and ensemble of 14 players, as part of the November Music festival in the Netherlands. Stone Codes was commissioned by the Dutch Golden Collection Foundation, Orkest De Ereprijs, and Warsaw Autumn festival with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation. It was written for Napolov as a part of the Dutch Golden Collection. A trailer previewing the work is available to view here.
Davies' 18-minute composition for the Percussion Marathon builds up layer by layer, playing with different constellations and rhythmic patterns, with energetic leaping and diving figures in the woodwinds over syncopated figures in piano and percussion. The soloist’s battery of instruments includes microtonally-tuned glockenspiel bars, four boobams, and Thai and opera gongs. The pervasive groove found in Davies’ music, recalling the influences of funk and electronica on her writing, comes in part from bass and electric guitars and two drum kits.
Davies’ evocative programme note for the piece describes Stone Codes as follows:
An AI roller-skater glides through cities, both ancient and modern
Making acrobatic swerves, revealing new panoramas
New constellations: etched in rhythmical code
Kaleidoscopic twists open up vistas: revelations of zeros and ones
Manifest as deep, funky rhythms: Earth’s chthonic ode
Light-language held in stone like insects in amber
Now released in flamboyant flashes and flashbacks
A ritual of percussion; the world’s oldest instrument
A choreography of vibration: etched onto air...
Perma-frost to Perma-joy
Davies has recently relocated to Rotterdam. In 2018-19 she was composer-in-residence at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw. That position culminated in the premiere of her major new ensemble work Soul Canoe, written for Dutch chamber orchestra Asko|Schönberg, and also saw performances of her song cycle Song of Pure Nothingness and a woodwind arrangement of her 2013 piece for strings The Beginning of the World by reed ensemble Calefax.