Wendy Mae Chambers


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American composer Wendy Mae Chambers likes to do things big. Her 1993 Mass for Mass Trombones featured 77 of the horns, and 1989's Symphony of the Universe required 100 timpani, among other instruments. She has several other compositions with numerous instances of an instrument along with such unexpected appearances as automobiles, TVs, crib toys, and vacuum cleaners. That love for grand percussion comes across in a more varied arrangement executed here by a dozen percussionists. Drums, mallet instruments, and other percussion bounds, slithers, and clangs with such odd cameos as a hand cranked siren. Eleven parts comprise the whole and each has its own flavor. In "Hoodoo Root Doctor," a suspenseful clock-like rhythm is mated with what could be the knocking of bones. This goes along with a general theme of ecstatic and pagan rites that can be imagined in subtropical jungle clearings or behind closed New Orleans doors. For instance, "&Wild Ride" is a direct reference to bizarrely costumed Fat Tuesday riders that act as a prelude to Mardi Gras. The chime sounds of implicit magic radiate from "Shango," a piece about the "master for magic." A night charged with expectancy and the judgment of fate and the poignant stress of prolonged silence is the setting given to "corpselike woman" seer "Manman Brigitte." Chambers' work is powerful and fantastic, a singular and memorable adventure of sorcerous rhythms.

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