Beacons by Clif Walker is a mystifying, medium-advanced percussion ensemble work for 22 performers that is meant to be performed without a conductor. The term beacons thematically represents both a signal and a melodic searchlight calling out into the unknown. As such, performers begin the piece in choreographed positions either offstage or hidden behind their instruments on stage. Musical cues, or beacons, signal performers to reveal themselves and join the piece. As the musical signal travels, the performers intently anticipate an answer to their call and ponder what form the response may take. The piece moves through thematic sections invoking out-of-this-world imagery, moments of uncertainty, and curious happenings. The piece winds down with a return to terrestrial thoughts before concluding with one final beacon to the ether.
Walker employs a number of noteworthy instrumentation and setup techniques to aid in creating an engaging and authentic sonic environment. Of the 22 performers, 8 members are placed in a 360º panorama around the audience to create an ultra-immersive listening environment. The remaining performers on stage provide the basis of the musical landscape in a more traditional setup. Beacons also contains unique instrumentation choices such as thunder drums, garden weasels (or small chimes), and a synthesizer. The synthesizer performers embellishes the celestial nature of the piece through synthetic sounds and a provided ambient,nighttime accompaniment track.
Beacons is an enthralling percussion ensemble piece that will captivate performers and audiences alike. This is an excellent choice for large ensembles looking to display and advance their playing capabilities, while simultaneously elevating their performance and creative prowess, as well.