March 6, 2015
by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim
Budding composers are well advised to write for standard instrumentation: The simpler and more common the forces required, the higher the chances of a piece getting performances beyond the premiere.
But Augusta Read Thomas, the subject of a Composer Portraits series at Columbia University’s Miller Theater on Thursday and the recipient of numerous prizes and orchestral commissions, is no longer a novice. In fact, according to statistics released last year by ASCAP, a performing rights organization, she topped their list of most frequently performed living composers in 2013-14.
She has permission, then, if any were needed, to think big. “Resounding Earth,” a 30-minute work for percussion quartet that received its New York premiere at Miller this week by the commandingly elegant Third Coast Percussion, calls for a battery of some 300 metal instruments, including tiny cymbal-like crotales, giant gongs, Burmese temple bells and metal coils. The work was developed in close collaboration with the Third Coast players and has been released on a beautiful CD by New Focus Recording.