Concerto for percussion & orchestra
(duration ~ 28:00)

To purchase the score and parts for this work, please see the print music catalogues

Rebecca Lagos / Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Richard Gill

Program note –
The title comes from the poem WHEN THE CLOCK STRIKES ME by the American poet, musician & actor, Saul Williams
The powerful, evocative imagery of this somewhat cathartic poem was brought to my attention during Saul William’s recent tour to Australia, at which time the percussion concerto was about half written. Many of the musical themes, gestures & textures of the concerto were clear to me, however the overall form of the work had not yet revealed itself.
As I weighed up my compositional options in a quest for proportion, shape & musical narrative, I found myself returning to Saul’s poem repeatedly & even though the concerto is not a programmatic realization of the poem, it certainly held inspirational qualities for me in the final stages of writing.
The concerto is divided into two sections, Part I featuring the xylophone, Part II the marimba.
Both the xylophone & marimba are surrounded by additional percussion instruments that in some way extend & compliment their tonal characteristics.
The dense, brittle staccato quality of the xylophone is matched by a set of Peking opera gongs, assorted metal junk, crotales (pitched metal discs)  & tuned octabans (mini tom toms). The resulting music is somewhat frantic, aggressive & raucous in character.
By way of contrast, the delicate rich qualities of the marimba are complimented by an exquisite set of specifically tuned Himalayan singing bowls & pitched Thai Gongs.
These instruments are used to portray a very different musical aesthetic, marked by harmonically static episodes of contemplation & fluid marimba phrases that are supported by a relatively sparse orchestration. At the core of the movement is a solo marimba cadenza, in itself a piece very much inspired by the special qualities of Rebecca’s mallet playing.
The two parts are bridged by an improvised cadenza on Spring drum, an amazingly simple, yet effective invention comprising of a metal spring attached to a stretched drum head.
The clock “strikes” many times throughout the piece, usually in sets of three & repetitive clock–type motives are frequently employed as musical time keeping devices.
I am very much indebted to Rebecca Lagos for her consistent support & advice relating to the ergonomic layout of the percussion set-up, mallet & sticking issues, compositional feedback & for sourcing the collection of instruments, & also to Richard Gill who fanned the flame of music within me many years ago & who remains a great inspiration, for initiating this commission.
My thanks to Saul Williams for kindly granting permission for the use of the title.
WHEN THE CLOCK STRIKES ME was commissioned by Symphony Australia for Rebecca Lagos & the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Richard Gill.

(by Saul Williams)
when the clock strikes me
the big hand will realize the grandeur
of its illusion
and will begin to shrink
in its own eyes
while the little hand
marvels at the ball of energy
spinning from its palm
when the clock strikes me
everything will stop
and that which was nothing
will become the beginning again
when the clock strikes me
numbers will backfire
symbols will become
that which they symbolize
and sayings like ‘out of the blue’
will reveal their hidden origin
when the clock strikes me
people will gather to deconstruct
the myths and fables
that conspired against them
and every new song
will be an antivirus
for an old belief
when the clock strikes me
women will close their doors
jump, dance, and bang the walls
in remembrance of their future selves
while men fight internally
to recall the recipe for freedom
when the clock strikes me
men will recall the recipe for freedom
and will begin to form
rescue teams for dreams deferred
when the clock strikes me
some people will have to die
when the clock strikes me
children will find it cool
to be playful
and adults will find it worthwhile
to play like children
when the clock strikes me
the story of jesus
will simply be told as a children’s story
where his name will be replaced with the name of every newborn
and families will celebrate every birth
as the rebirth of the messiah
and all people will think of all people
as chosen
when the clock strikes me
buddha will still be laughing
when the clock strikes me
the powers of being will prevail
over the powers that be
when the clock strikes me
thugs and poets will laugh at themselves
businessmen will serve humanity
world leaders will turn to their mothers for advice
and mothers will turn
to their daughters
for inspiration
when the clock strikes me
something will be different
something will feel completely random
the moment will feel slightly eerie
the unexpected will change places
with the predictable
and life will truly feel like an adventure
when the clock strikes me
no alarm will sound
green streaks of light may mark the night
stray cats may purr
and rub themselves against your ankle
many people will double blink
and pinch themselves
and those who normally don’t
will notice the moon in broad daylight
when the clock strikes me
it will strike you too
and even your cynicism
and concrete analysis
will be brought into question
as the most beautiful strange
makes herself/himself known to you
when the clock strikes me
your loved ones
will glow with the beauty
of complete strangers
and you will have to
reintroduce yourself to your parents
for they will have never met
the side of you that dances
just because you found an old recipe
when the clock strikes me
you will be sitting someplace
alone or with another
reading this
and we will both
go off unexpectedly
spines will tingle
eyes will water
and this moment
on this plane
in my favourite jeans
with jimi blaring in my ears
will become NOW
and more eyes will water
for they will know
and they will feel it
and live it
and they will turn
to the stranger beside them
and say “you have to read this”
and this will go down in history
as one of those moments
when you knew
that nothing would ever
be the same