Saturday 31 January 2015, the Barbican Centre

Drum roll please… The BBC Symphony Orchestra continues its 2014-2015 Total Immersion series with the first ever Immersion Day dedicated to a specific section of the orchestra - the percussion.

The percussion section of an orchestra is arguably the most seized upon by contemporary composers; highlights of Total Immersion: Percussion will include the London premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Poème dansé Tutuguri, a morning workshop of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music, masterclasses and performances with young percussion groups, talks and workshops on how to compose for percussion, pop up performances around the Barbican Centre and much more.

Throughout the day the Barbican Freestage will be buzzing with percussion music from a variety of ensembles. From 11:30am orchestral percussion ensembles from music hubs across London will give an open masterclass led by two of the BBC Symphony Orchestra's percussionists, Alex Neal and Fiona Ritchie. They will also perform in the Barbican foyer before the concert. Later in the day student ensembles from Guildhall and the Royal College of Music will be popping up to perform an eclectic mix of percussion music which will demonstrate how vast and flexible the percussion section really is.

In the afternoon concert at LSO St Luke’s the Guildhall Percussion Ensemble will perform some of the most theatrical and ingenious music written for percussion, with works by Brian Ferneyhough, Steve Reich and Helmut Lachenmann.

To complete the day, the BBC SO’s percussion section will be taking over the Barbican Hall for the London premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s thrilling Poème dansé Tutuguri. This monumental work for large orchestra, multiple percussionists, taped chorus and speaker, creates a mesmerising palette of rhythmic and timbral textures. Tutuguri places scatological and anti-religious words within a musical texture that ranges from hypnotic haze to raw blasts of noise and was inspired by the foreword to a theatre piece by avant-garde French playwright Antonin Arnaud entitled ‘To Have Done With the Judgment of God?’ This sentiment underscores much of the seismic piece which culminates in 40 minutes of pounding and pummelling percussion.

Alongside the epic work by Rihm there will be a chance for 100 members of the public to participate in a version of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music which will be performed as part of the evening concert. Those wishing to take part in the Reich will need to participate in a workshop that morning. For more information and to sign up please visit:

This action-packed day is going to be tough to beat!

The BBC Symphony Orchestra continues its Total Immersion series with a day devoted to Pierre Boulez on 21 March 2015.


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