Video: Concerto for Bass Drum and Orchestra premiers in Princeton

Orchestral percussionists are normally at the rear of the orchestra, surrounded by an assortment of drums, cymbals, gongs and xylophones. But a new concerto composed by Gabriel Prokofiev, grandson of Sergei Prokofiev, throws the spotlight on the bass drum.

The Concerto for Bass Drum and Orchestra was premiered by British percussionist Joby Burgess and the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Rossen Milanov. Burgess demonstrates an astonishing variety of sounds and techniques, including a “lion’s roar,” rattling chains, thimbles on the wooden sides of the drum, and drumming with bundles of bamboo.

The work was originally planned as a concerto for percussion with the solo bass drum in only one movement, but the composer became intrigued with the range of sounds the lowest percussion instrument can produce.

Burgess studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London, and is founder of Powerplant, a multimedia collective that performs improvisations, commissions, and experimental works. Prokofiev is a London-based composer and producer, and founder of the NONCLASSICAL record label and “club nights.”

This performance in Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University, was part of the Onegin Project — a unique collaboration between scholars and students in the Music Department and Slavic Languages and Literature Departments.


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