Last night, Atlanta's Chamber Cartel, a group of musicians seeking to find the rare, wonderful, imaginative, and beautiful in contemporary music, presented the Southeastern premier of Iannis Xenakis’ epic percussion sextet, Pleiades, at The Goat Farm.
The composition requires six percussionists and over 900 square feet of percussion instruments. Each percussionist had drums, tympani, marimbas, and something called a sixxen, handmade microtonal steel bars designed by the composer for performing this piece.
In Greek mythology, the Pleiades were the daughters of Atlas, who were saddened that their father was forced to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. To protest, each committed suicide (now that's a supportive family!), an act of sacrifice that let to their immortality as a group of bright stars in the evening sky. Xenakis' composition is a musical reanimation of the sisters in four movements - Peaux (Skins), played on drums and tympani, Claviers (Keyboards), played on marimbas, Metaux (Metals), played on the sixxens, and Melanges (Mixture), played, as the name suggests, on all of the above. To give you an idea of the sound, here's New York's So Percussion performing the Metaux movement on sixxens.
To be brutally honest, I thought Chamber Cartel's performance was better, but it may be the difference between live performance and a recording.
InKyoung Chun's Blue Gate, which we last saw at the South Broad Block Party, guarded the entrance to Goodson Yard for the performance.