• Alexandre Lunsqui (b.1969)
  • Sextet
  • 2006

When I first arrived at Northern Illinois University, I knew I wanted to start an ensemble of berimbaus. The problem, of course, was that no repertoire existed for such a group. With the contemporary percussion group model in mind (Kroumata, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Red Fish Blue Fish, etc.) I decided a sextet would be an appropriate size group. This number also happens to be the number of strings on a standard guitar, another model that provides a natural analog for the possible sound world of a berimbau sextet.

“Repercussio” was the first truly successful piece written for the NIU Berimbau Ensemble. Alexandre Lunsqui, a native Brazilian from São Paulo, knows the berimbau intimately. Prior to “Repercussio,” he and I collaborated to create “Iris” (2000) for solo berimbau, and “p-Orbital” (2004) for berimbau and chamber ensemble.

In this work, Lunsqui explores a highly kaleidoscopic array of timbres and colors, both pitches and unpitched, and weaves these sounds through a rhythmic language that is tight knit and highly charged. Rhythmic figures and timbral colors collide, overlap and cross-fade. Large clouds and blocks of sound move at various rates of speed through the ensemble, passing frequently from one performer to the next, often in rapid succession. The result is a tightly choreographed performance for six musicians, each dancing and moving to the rhythms and sounds s/he coaxes out from the berimbau in hand. – Gregory Beyer, DeKalb, Illinois 2008

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