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A Sky Full of Stars

Composer: Heng LIU

Instrument: Percussion Ensemble

Level: Advanced

Published: 2022

Price: €60.00

Item details

  • Description +
    • Duration: 10 min.


      A Sky Full of Stars, is a piece for 12 percussionists. Each of us is a Star in the Sky. Because of music, we are connected. Different Stars like our tutors and ourselves connected and handed down from generation to generation.

  • Instrumentation +
    • Required Instruments (12 percussionists)

      Player 1: Tubular Bell (with hammers and metal mallets)

      Player 2: Glockenspiel

      Player 3: Xylophone

      Player 4: Vibraphone (with mallets and two bows)

      Player 5: Marimba 1 (4-1/3 or 5 Octave)

      Player 6: Marimba 2 (5 Octave, shared with player 7)

      Player 7: Marimba 2 (5 Octave, shared with player 6)
      Bass Drum, 28", optional: big floor tom

      Player 8: Marimba 3 (5 Octave, shared with player 9)
      Bass Drum, 28", optional: big floor tom

      Player 9: Marimba 3 (5 Octave, shared with player 8)

      Player 10: 3 Tom-Toms, suggestion: use set of 18",16",14, or set of 16",14",12"
      Bass Drum, 28", optional: big floor tom

      Player 11:Gran Cassa (with soft b.d. mallets and hard mallets)
      Cymbal, 12" played on Tom-Tom, 12" or snare drum
      Trash (low pitch), optional: put one 16"crash cymbal on 20"ride or china cymbal

      Player 12: Tam-Tam
      Ride Cymbal, 18"or 20"
      Sizzle Cymbal, 16" or 18"
      Suspended Cymbal, 16" or 18"
      Trash (high pitch), optional: put two splash cymbal on one cymbal stand), or semi-closed hi-hat
      Bass Drum, 28", optional: big floor tom

  • About the composer +
    • Heng LIU is the principal percussion of the China National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra, executive director of China Percussion Association, artist of MEINL Percussion, MEINL Cymbals, Innovative Percussion, Marimba One, and Remo.

      Liu studied percussion from childhood with his father Yaguang LIU, professor of percussion at Xi 'an Conservatory of Music. In 2005, Liu was admitted to the Central Conservatory of Music. He studied with professor Gang LIU and professor Biao LI successively and obtained bachelor's and master's degrees. By the time he was 18, Liu had won the first prize in the National Youth Percussion Competition. Liu was a percussion jury of the Italian International Percussion Competition, where he also held master classes and special concerts. He also judges the annual International Network Percussion Competition and National Youth Percussion Competition.

      Between 2017 to 2019, Liu embarked on his improvisation and interactive percussion concert "Give me one hour" tour. The tour hit many major Chinese cities including Tianqiao Art Center in Beijing, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, Xi 'An concert hall, Shijiazhuang Center for the Performing Arts, etc. Liu performed entirely improvised sets based on interaction with the audience, bringing concertgoers a brand new musical experience.

      So far, Liu has published two albums: Percussion Visionary --Heng LIU Percussion Concert and DRUMS, an original album released by "Hei Chao" Duo with renowned drummer Yanchao LI. He also writes a personal column Heng LIU Said in music weekly.

As a percussionist, Liu has traveled to various music festivals around the world. These include: Italian International Percussion Competition and Festival, Greek International Percussion Competition and Festival, NCPA International Percussion Festival, Beijing International Electronic Music Festival, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Jazz Shanghai Music Festival, Strawberry Music Festival, MIDI Festival and so on.

      In the meanwhile, Liu has created more than 30 works, including percussion ensemble piece "The General", "Memory", "Face2Face", percussion and electronic music "Delay", "Percumotion", percussion solo "Rain the Blind Monk", "Wild LEO ", "Poem" and many more. In 2016, his Chinese Traditional Percussion solo piece "Gazing on Mountain TAI" won the 1st prize of China Traditional Music Festival - CCOM ethnic Percussion works collection competition.

      In 2019, Heng LIU won "Best Work Awards" and "Best All-round Percussionist" of 2019 Drummmer's Ceremony.

  • Reviews +
    • Percussive Notes, February 2023

      Composer Heng Liu states, “Each of us is a star in the sky. Because of music, we are connected. Different stars, like our tutors and ourselves, (are) connected and handed down from generation to generation.” These sentiments are reflected in Liu’s composition, as individual musical fragments appear discreetly and are combined gradually over the course of this 10-minute work. The harmonies are largely tonal throughout, creating a complex web of sound characterized by interlocking rhythms across the ensemble. The final section of the piece features unison statements from non-pitched instruments with the keyboard percussion instruments executing repetitive figures whose counterpoint almost invokes a Steve Reich-like texture on a grand scale. Liu offers two codas from which the conductor can choose: one ending softly and the other loud.

      While the scoring is dense, especially in later sections of the piece, all parts are idiomatically written to be playable by intermediate to early-advanced players. Four-mallet writing is chordal (either as block or broken chords) with the exception of a brief passage featuring an eighthnote melody and accompaniment in one of the marimba parts. Many of the non-pitched parts are unison or easily coordinated with the aid of a conductor.

      “A Sky Full of Stars” would make a good “cornerstone” piece on an intermediate/advanced college percussion ensemble concert. In addition to the programmatic beauty of the music, it will provide a strong vehicle for ensemble playing and listener engagement.

      —Jason Baker

  • Credits +
    • Front Cover graphics and layout: Ronni Kot Wenzell
      Photo: NCPA Orchestra
      Copyright © Edition SVITZER