Andy Akiho: Seven Pillars
Hailed by The New York Times as “a lush, brooding celebration of noise,” Andy Akiho’s Seven Pillars is his most ambitious project to date. Nominated for a Grammy Award for best classical composition and best chamber music performance, the work is structured as a large-scale palindrome and consists of seven ensemble movements and one solo movement for each member of Sandbox Percussion. Michael Joseph McQuilken’s lighting scheme reinforces the work's form throughout the live performance. Performed by Sandbox, this evening-length work is the largest-scale chamber music work that Akiho has written and that Sandbox has commissioned. Akiho and Sandbox’s collaboration for Seven Pillars has spanned the past eight years.
Described as “trailblazing” (LA Times), Andy Akiho is a composer and performer of new music. Recent engagements include commissioned premieres by the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony, China Philharmonic, Guangzhou Symphony, Oregon Symphony with soloist Colin Currie, American Composers Orchestra, Music@Menlo, Chamber Music Northwest, Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, LA Dance Project, and experimental opera company The Industry.
Akiho has been recognized with many prestigious awards and organizations including the Rome Prize, Lili Boulanger Memorial Prize, Harvard University Fromm Commission, Barlow Endowment, New Music USA, and Chamber Music America. Additionally, his compositions have been featured on PBS’s News Hour with Jim Lehrer and by organizations such as Bang on a Can, American Composers Forum, The Intimacy of Creativity in Hong Kong, and the Heidelberg Festival. Akiho is also an active steel pannist and performs his compositions with various ensembles worldwide. He has performed his works with the Charlotte Symphony, South Carolina Philharmonic, Grand Rapids Symphony, Nu Decco Ensemble, LA Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella Series, the Berlin Philharmonic’s Scharoun Ensemble, Miyamoto is Black Enough, the International Drum Festival in Taiwan, and has had four concerts featuring his compositions at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Akiho’s recordings No One To Know One (innova Recordings) and The War Below (National Sawdust Tracks) feature brilliantly crafted compositions that pose intricate rhythms and exotic timbres inspired by his primary instrument, the steel pan. He is currently based in New York City and Portland, OR.
Described as “exhilarating” by The New York Times, and “utterly mesmerizing” by The Guardian, GRAMMY®-nominated ensemble Sandbox Percussion has established themselves as a leading proponent of contemporary percussion chamber music. Brought together by the simple joy of playing together, Sandbox Percussion captivates audiences with performances that are both visually and aurally stunning.
Through compelling collaborations with composers and performers, Jonathan Allen, Victor Caccese, Ian Rosenbaum, and Terry Sweeney seek to engage a wider audience for classical music. Sandbox Percussion’s 2021 album Seven Pillars was nominated for two GRAMMY® awards. This evening-length work by Andy Akiho with stage direction and lighting design by Michael Joseph McQuilken is Sandbox’s largest commission to date. In addition to the world premiere of Seven Pillars at Emerald City Music in Seattle, the 2021/2022 season includes many highlights - Sandbox Percussion will perform concertos with the Albany Symphony and UMKC Conservatory Orchestra, travel to Northern Ireland, Lithuania and many cities across the United States, perform at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, and premiere new works by David Crowell, Molly Joyce, Loren Loiacono, Jessica Meyer, Tawnie Olson, and Tyshawn Sorey. Sandbox was appointed ensemble-in-residence and percussion faculty at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2021, has led masterclasses and coachings all around the United States, and in 2016, founded the annual NYU Sandbox Percussion Seminar. Sandbox Percussion endorses Pearl/Adams musical instruments, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks and mallets, Remo drumheads, and Black Swamp accessories.
Michael Joseph McQuilken
Michael Joseph McQuilken originally hails from Portland, Oregon, where he was raised in a working-class home by social worker parents who were terrified that his artistic tendencies would leave him perpetually broke. These fears were not allayed when 20-something Michael became a professional street performer for three years, making music with garbage.
Fortunately, he finagled a scholarship-fueled higher education, and now he is a not-quite-broke director, writer, filmmaker, and composer in Jersey City. He holds degrees in directing and sound engineering, and has an amazing wife, Adina, who tolerates his restless creative tendencies that have taken over the majority of the space in their home.