Marc Mellits (1966)
Stacy Garrop (1969)
Rites for the Afterlife (2018)
Inscriptions from the Book of the Dead
The Hall of Judgement
The Field of Reeds
Nina Simone, Coots/Lewis (1933-2003)
“For All We Know” (1934) arr. Jelte Althuis
Steven Snowden (1981)
Featuring guest percussionist
Like a drifting fog; irreverent, funky
Ringing, reverberant; sinuous
Brutal; ferocious, merciless
Jeff Scott (1967)
Homage to Paradise Valley (2019)
Ghosts of Black Bottom
Roho, Pumzika kwa Amani (Spirits, Rest Peacefully)
Club Paradise Jump!
Splinter, by Chicago-based composer Marc Mellits, is probably the most popular work of the reed quintet repertoire. Composed in 2014 expressly for the reed quintet instrumentation of clarinet, oboe, saxophone, bass clarinet, and bassoon, Mellits delivers a work suitable for introducing the reed quintet to ears which may never have heard it before. Splinter is comprised of short “miniatures,” each with their own personality. Combined, they each express unique emotional qualities through hocketing rhythms and colorful orchestrations. Mellits often composes for amplified acoustic instruments, including percussion, piano, and strings. Rhythmic drive and development is a major component to his music, but does not over shadow his use of elongated phrases, subtle and effective harmonic motion, and beautiful textural creations.
Rites for the Afterlife
After Akropolis and two other reed quintets chose Stacy Garrop as winner of the 2018 Barlow Prize for music composition, she was granted the Barlow Endowment’s prestigious prize to compose her first reed quintet, which Akropolis premiered in 2018. It was the first time the Endowment chose the reed quintet to award this prize for a new composition.
Stacy chose for her subject matter the Egyptian’s beliefs about the afterlife. The piece follows the soul into and through the afterlife, including the spells and enchantments contained in The Book of the Dead, the funery barque which tows the soul through the Netherworld, its arrival in the Hall of Judgement to be weighed against a feather from Maat—the goddess of truth—and its final resting place at the field of reeds where it is united with family members, harvesting plentiful crops along the Nile under a brilliant blue sky forever.
For All We Know
“For All We Know” was originally published in 1934 and written by J. Fred Coots and Sam M. Lewis. The version performed by Akropolis is arranged from Nina Simone’s performance on her 1959 record, Nina Simone and Her Friends. On this track, Simone accompanies her voice on piano with classical-style, contrapuntal music that weaves itself in and out of the music’s lyrics, making an arrangement for reed quintet a natural fit. The individual, but blended sounds of the oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and bass clarinet play the role of the piano, while saxophone carries the melody: “But tomorrow may never, never come, for all we know.”
Sprocket was composed by Steven Snowden for Akropolis’ Together We Sound festival in Detroit, MI, and premiered in June 2019. Commissioned by Akropolis with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Sprocket combines reed quintet with percussion. In Detroit the percussion instruments were assembled into a rideable percussion bicycle which reflected the massive cycling culture of Detroit. Each movement utilizes different components of the reed quintet timbre in combination with different percussive elements. The original percussion bike was designed and built by Detroit resident and Kresge Arts Fellow, Juan Martinez, and premiered at Wasserman Projects gallery and the Dequindre Cut bike path in Detroit.
Homage to Paradise Valley
Homage to Paradise Valley was commissioned by and composed for Akropolis in 2019, with support from the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning program. Paradise Valley was the business district of Black Bottom, a densely-populated African American neighborhood in Detroit. It was displaced during the mid-century urban renewal, including large scale highway projects. This became an interest of Jeff Scott’s after he and Akropolis visited the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, while Jeff’s quintet, Imani Winds, was passing through Detroit on tour. Homage to Paradise Valley utilizes Jeff’s diverse musical background as a jazz and studio musician in New York City. One can learn more about this part of Detroit’s history by visiting the Detroit Historical Society website at detroithistorical.org.