James Wood’s multi-faceted career has led him into an extraordinarily broad spectrum of musical activities, as conductor, composer, musicologist, instrument designer and percussionist.
Tongues of Fire (2001) is a work for symphonic chorus and percussion quartet, written for the 140th Anniversary of the Yale Glee Club. Conscious of the enormous tradition of American university Glee Clubs, and the part that gospel and spiritual music has played in it, Wood emphasizes America’s rich cultural diversity using the story of the Pentecost. The central text from The Acts of the Apostles is set in various languages, starting in Latin-American Spanish and splintering off into Hebrew, Maori, Jamaican English, Latin, Hungarian, Russian, German and French. A quartet of oil drums, plus cowbells, gongs, guiros and metal rods provide percussive timbral richness and power. These combine with a variety of vocal styles, including chanting, singing, hissing and whistling, to give the work a tribal feel.
Percussion sextet Cloud-Polyphonies explores the movements of large formations of organisms – whether animals, insects, birds, fish, water, steam or crowds of human beings. The first movement 'Starlings', is written for six marimbas and woodblocks, the second, 'Clouds', for metal instruments and prepared piano, and the third, 'Buffalo', for drums, simantras and bullroarers.MDR Leipzig Radio Choir
Ear Massage Percussion Quartet
James Wood conductor
Yale Percussion Group
Robert Van Sice director