2015 Commissioned by Dame Evelyn Glennie as part of her “50 By 50” project in celebration of her 50th birthday.

Solo tam-tam (plus 1-4 music boxes)

Sandman’s Castle

(for solo tam-tam and 1-4 music boxes)

Sandman’s Castle was written for Dame Evelyn Glennie as part of the “50 for 50” project to celebrate her 50th birthday – 50 composers would compose 50 measures of music for a solo percussion instrument. For this project, I chose the tam-tam as my instrument of choice. For years I had been quite drawn to its sonic beauty and its many expressive possibilities. As well, writing for such an instrument would allow me to explore unchartered territories and open up new directions in my creative thinking.

In order to ensure the work would be tailored to Ms. Glennie’s talents – something I always think about when composing for a virtuoso performer like her – I requested to have her video-record herself improvising on the tam-tam while using as many different mallets, sticks, and items she could think of. This helped open my eyes and ears to the variety of sounds she was be able to create from the instrument. It truly was mesmerizing watching her interact with the instrument, like witnessing a shaman drawing up otherworldly sounds from a primordial realm. From viewing her improvisation, I was inspired by the many techniques she used and sound colours she created. It did not take long for me to draft up a musical narrative based her natural gestures and imaginative soundscape. For me, I view this work as a mystical journey into the world of dreams, ruled by the mystical Sandman, and Ms. Glennie is our guide.

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