Toilers of the Elements – Seascape fantasy for percussion and string orchestra
Toilers of the Elements is a percussion concerto written for Dame Evelyn Glennie and commissioned by Peninsula Arts.
The concerto was premiered by Evelyn Glennie and the Ten Tors Orchestra in Plymouth Guildhall where it received a standing ovation from a packed audience.
James collaborated on this project with the Totnes-based marine artist Anthony Amos, and the narrative behind the piece was based on the fishing and sea-faring heritage of the south-west and death at sea. Anthony had formerly worked on merchant ships and boats and painted many pictures in response to the music but, very sadly, he suddenly died a few months after the performance. These are two of the paintings he painted as part of the collaboration.
“A wonderful new concerto which explores the real subtlety and musicality of percussion playing in relation to the string orchestra. James Barrett allows the performers to delve into so much more than what the written page can project. He injects this need for us all, performers and audience alike, to use all our senses to participate in the piece.”
Dame Evelyn Glennie, CH DBE
“Having explored Glennie’s arsenal, Barrett had settled for a lovely combination of Vibes, Marimba, tam-tams, ‘waterphones’, and a mellow-toned “Hapi” drum. The dialogue between soloist and orchestra was by turns lyrical and explosive. The orchestral writing had a Stravinskyan tinge, while the solo part gave full scope to Glennie’s virtuosity: this “Fantasy for Percussion and Strings” deserves to be heard again soon.”
Michael Church, The Independent