Nimbus Records releases American composer Augusta Read Thomas' latest album, Bell Illumnations, on 1 April 2022. Described by The New Yorker as 'a true virtuoso composer' and the creator of 'music that conjures' in The Huffington Post, according to ASCAP, Augusta Read Thomas is the one of USA's most performed composers.
'Thomas’ music, mixing tonality and atonality, is hopeful and inspiring. ... For those interested in exploring contemporary music, Bell Illuminations by Augusta Read Thomas is an excellent way to start.' Louis Harris, Third Coast Review
'Thomas has created a spirited work that immediately charmed me.'
M.L. Rantala, The Hyde Park Herald
BELL ILLUMINATIONS: ALBUM DETAILS
Crescat Scientia; Vita Excolatur: for carillon of 72 bells, four players - eight hands and two feet
Joey Brink, with Joseph Min, Emily Kim and João Francisco Shida, carillonists
Upon Wings of Words (Emily Dickinson): soprano and string quartet
NEXUS Chamber Music: Co-Artistic Directors Brian Hong, violinist and Alexander Hersh, ‘cello, with Kristina Bachrach, soprano; Jordan Bak, viola; Benjamin Baker, violin
Bebop Riddle: for solo marimba
John Corkill, percussionist
Ring Out ,Wild Bells, To The Wild Sky (from Tennyson, In Memoriam): solo soprano, chorus, and orchestra
The Choral Arts Society of Washington; Carmen Pelton, soprano; Norman Scribner, conductor
Enchanted Invocation: solo vibraphone and five crotales
John Corkill, percussionist
Sonorous Earth: for bells from around the world (four players) and orchestra
Third Coast Percussion; Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra; Scott Speck, conductor
'Sonorous Earth is conceived as a cultural statement celebrating interdependence and commonality across all cultures, and as a musical statement celebrating the extraordinary beauty and diversity of expression inherent in bell sounds.
Scored for four percussionists playing bells from a wide variety of cultures and historical periods, Sonorous Earth can be heard and imagined as a United-Nations-of-Resonances.
Everything that we are made of, everything that we know and love, is made from the stars.
We - like all metals - are stardust. Metals are exceptionally resonant sound sources, rich with vibrational possibilities. As such, artisans across time and earth have been inspired to sculpt metals into musical instruments. More than three hundred pieces of metal are incorporated into the instrumentation of Sonorous Earth.
Probing into bells' rich meanings and characteristics as carriers of history, ethnicity, societal and cultural connotations is a joy and wonder. Bells can be used to celebrate grand occasions, hold sacrificial rites, keep a record of events, give the correct time, celebrate births and weddings, mark funerals, caution a community, enhance any number of religious ceremonies, and are even hung around the necks of animals. As carriers of history and culture, bells, of numerous shapes, sizes, types, decorative patterns, weights, functions, and cultural connotations, enrapture and inspire.'
Bells are central to Augusta Read Thomas' music; bells permeate her music. For over 25 years, in every work for orchestra, and in many for smaller ensembles, she has been composing music frequently using percussion consisting of bell sounds (pitched metal percussion and all the mallet percussion instruments) many of which have their origins in other than Western musical cultures. This makes Sonorous Earth an extreme extension of work she has been doing for decades.
'I like music that is alive and jumps off the page and
out of the instrument as if something big is at stake.'
Augusta Read Thomas
Download Bell Illuminations: