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Concrete Wall

Lucy Pankhurst: Bitruncation (2023)


In 2011 Dr Lucy Pankhurst became the first female composer to be presented with a British Composer Award; she has composed for BBC Radio 3 and has received many accolades for her innovative work.


Dr Pankhurst’s new electroacoustic work for euphonium with live electronics was commissioned by American euphonium soloist, Justin Weis, with the support of Euphonium Foundation UK.


For performers unfamiliar with the use of looping technologies, microtonal tuning, and non-traditional performance, the work offers significant challenges, but also opens new doors for the euphonium as a solo voice. Bitruncation is a solo with live electronics in 3 sections in which each section consists of a four-track looped phrase, a melody line, and an activation node.


Dr. Pankhurst comments: "In geometry, a bitruncation is where the original edges of a polyhedron are lost, creating a new shape. This is achieved by 'blunting' each corner until new corners are created.  Polyhedrons have an associated 'dual' structure, where the vertices of one correspond to the faces of the other, and the edges between pairs of vertices of one correspond to the edges between pairs of faces of the other. This work uses the relationship between the cube and octahedron; a bitruncated cube becomes an octahedron, which then becomes a cube when bitruncated, itself."


The composer goes on to explain: “For each section, the melodic material was chosen by a chance operation of rolling dice - the first section representing a cube rolled by a d6, the second the octahedron rolled by a d8, and the final a smaller cube using the same rolls of the first d6.  Each roll of the die corresponded to a map of the sides and vertices which were numbered, so a roll of 4 would equate to edges 6, 8, 10, 12, and vertices 2, 4, 6, 8. This was the key to figuring out the melodic material, which could then be developed through loops and melody.”


Euphonium soloist, Justin Weis, believes: “It is our responsibility as euphonium players interested in keeping our art form alive and relevant to keep the audience engaged. New works like this offer an innovative alternative to traditional recital solos. Bitruncation uses interactive electronics in a compelling way which continues to innovate the repertoire and keep the solo euphonium interesting.”

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