Grey Area (2017-19)

Instrumentation: Ensemble and Street Skateboarding Film

Duration: 20 min

Performer: Crash Ensemble

Premièred at: Musica Nova Helsinki, Finland

Commissioned by: Engage Arts Festival

Supported by: The Arts Council of Ireland

Composer / Director: Sam Perkin

Cinematography: Nob / Sam Curtin

Skateboarders: Charles Neilson / Paddy Walsh

Blending the essence of street skateboarding
with contemporary music, ‘Grey Area’ is a hypnotic
nocturnal journey through the streets leading us to secrets
that we find only if we are open to them.

About The Work:

As a composer and skateboarder, it has taken me quite a few years to find a way of blending the two together in a meaningful artistic way. Grey Area is the fruit of a collaboration between friends, an exploration at the crossroads between contemporary music and street skateboarding. I wanted to convey the unique feeling of liberation that street skateboarding brings. I also wished to transport the listener / viewer into the mind a skateboarder. I did this to reveal how skateboarders look differently at architecture - how they perceive their landscape and the excitement that it brings to them.

In the film, two different worlds are shown in relief, each one complementing the other. The first layer is in slow motion and follows a skateboarder from the centre of a city to its outskirts. The second layer intersperses energetic, glitchy shots of a skateboarder interacting with their landscape. All sound was removed from the film and we hear this second layer played by Crash Ensemble. In other words, I orchestrated the sounds, rhythms and colours of skateboarding and The City.

We are hypnotically drawn in to the skateboarder’s hypnotic nocturnal journey to see what secrets are to be found, if we are open to them.

Waves (2016-18)

Instrumentation: Solo Percussionist and String Orchestra

Duration: 18 min

Commissioned by: The Irish Chamber Orchestra

Soloist: Alex Petcu

ConductorGábor Takács-Nagy

Supported by: The Arts Council of Ireland

About The Work:

Tinnitus is the hearing of sound when no sound is present.  As a composer, hearing these phantom sounds, which started a year ago for me, can be frustrating. They can make composing, conversing, and sleeping quite difficult. Some people find that white noise, rainfall or ocean waves can help to mask these sound mirages. The ocean wave sounds worked for me, and I listened to them a lot. Over 365 days, while I had them flowing through my mind, I took these sounds from nature, that I cherish so much, and composed a work that is entirely made up of these beautiful patterns, in essence, 365 variations on a wave gesture. The ebb and flow in the music comes from the true rhythm of nature, and in the way it mysteriously varies itself. I attempted to harness these natural forces to create a work in which we can be in awe of nature’s secrets, but also a work that, who knows, can maybe cure tinnitus.

"...charts the wonderful variety of wave sounds, their slow rolling might, their percussive foam and froth, their rumbles and shimmers. Gabor Takács-Nagy and the players of the ICO, with Alex Petcu playing percussion, seemed to be delivering everything he could have wished for."

— Michael Dervan, The Irish Times

Pause (2016)

Instrumentation: String Orchestra and Slowed-Down Irish Fiddle

Duration: 11 min

Commissioned by: Ortús Chamber Music Festival

Programme Note: Pause is a meditative work in which a live classical String Quartet interacts with a recorded traditional Irish Fiddle slowed-down by 800%. Commissioned by Ortús Chamber Music Festival, the work was written to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland and it is dedicated to Thomas Kent who executed during the aftermath of The Rising. The haunting slowed-down Irish tune heard in the work is The Foggy Dew, played from a laptop during the performance and originally performed by Mairéad Hickey. The audience are invited to hum for the end of the piece. Supported by The Arts Council of Ireland.

Orca-Volt (2015)

Instrumentation: Orchestra and Whale Sounds

Duration: 15 min

Composed for: Orchestre du Conservatoire National Supérieur Musique de Lyon

Programme Note: Collaboration with French composer Valentin Jost. Orca by Sam Perkin blends whale sounds with the orchestra. Volt by Valentin Jost blends electricity sounds with the orchestra. The two pieces are played separately, then simultaneously with only one orchestra, in a work of striking superimposition.

Nimbus (2015)

Instrumentation: String Orchestra (18 Parts)

Duration: 20 mins

Commissioned by: The Irish Chamber Orchestra

Programme Note: Very occasionally, you cross paths with someone and you feel a strong presence. It is like an aura that only you can see. Its radiance is outside of the realm of the five senses and the physical plane. Some things can never be told through words. That is why there is music.  Funded by The Arts Council of Ireland.

Inspirit (2013)

Instrumentation: String Orchestra with Body Percussion

Duration: 10 min

Commissioned by: Concorda Chamber Music

Programme Note: This work contains many Body Percussion and Vocal techniques. These include: foot stamping, finger clicks, string slaps, blocked string pizzicato, body taps, rubbing of hands, whispering, breathing noises, and many other sounds that the human body can make.  Funded by The Arts Council of Ireland.