Release Date: February 10,2022

EarthQuaker Partnership Shakes up the Symphony Experience

February 10, 2022 - Akron, OH – Thanks to a unique partnership with EarthQuaker Devices, Akron Symphony Orchestra’s next concert offers concertgoers an opportunity to experience the Orchestra’s talents in a whole new way. The EarthQuaker Symphony will take place on March 5, at 8 pm, at EJ Thomas Hall. 

While the playbill lists familiar favorites like Haydn and Beethoven, the centerpiece of the program is the premiere performance of Confluence, a Concerto for Orchestra and EarthQuaker Devices, a newly commissioned work that explores traditional instruments and electronic effects. This blending of tradition and modernity is possible by using handmade effects pedals manufactured by Akron-based EarthQuaker devices. These effects range from subtle vibrato, distortions of various types, pitch and timbral modulations, echos, and reverbs.  

Confluence is set in six short movements. Except for the final movement, each movement title is taken from the name of an EarthQuaker device: I. The Depths, II. Afterneath, III. Dunes, IV. Aqueduct, V. Astral Destiny, and VI. Terrae Motus.

This piece is the result of a two-year collaboration. 

“It makes such sense for us to work together. The Akron Symphony has always welcomed community partners of every stripe, often in projects that expand the usual artistic boundaries. Meanwhile, EarthQuaker Devices is a potent force in the music industry globally and a major influence on the local music scene,” said Christopher Wilkens, music director for the symphony. “For a number of years, we’ve talked about creating new sound worlds by extending the application of EarthQuaker pedals to orchestral instruments, while broadening the sonic palette of the Symphony through electronic effects. The only way to do this is collaboratively, using the creativity of one of their favorite artists, Jon Sonnenberg, and the talents of a master of orchestral writing, Jake Gunnar Walsh. We’re all thrilled with the results; the piece is unlike anything we’ve heard before. Clearly, both institutions love mixing up the terrain, changing the landscape. That’s what earthquakes do!”

"EarthQuaker Devices is proud to present this groundbreaking collaboration with the Akron Symphony Orchestra. The ASO is such an important cultural institution for Akron, and we are so thrilled by the creativity this performance will demonstrate. Sonnenberg and Walsh have created a beautiful piece, especially for this event. It will be a very special evening that we look forward to sharing with our community., said Julie Robbins, EarthQuaker Devices VP.

Joining the Orchestra on stage for the premiere are co-composers, Jon Sonnenberg and Jake Gunnar Walsh. In addition to composing, Sonneberg has contributed to many products in the music industry, including a few designs for EarthQuaker Devices and the ‘Confluence Harp,’ an instrument invented for this work. Jake Gunnar Walsh is an award-winning composer, performer, and educator based in New York. 

“With this piece, I seek to not only use these electro-acoustic effects to enhance the abundantly colorful orchestral palette but also integrate these effects seamlessly into the composition of the work,” said Walsh. “I researched how each of the EarthQuaker pedals interacted with different orchestral instruments and in close collaboration with Jon, created a piece in which the ensemble mimics the pedal effects, and likewise, the pedals emulate the sounds of the orchestra itself.  It has been a true delight to breathe life into Confluence as a composer and performer alike.”

The full EarthQuaker Symphony program is:

  • Haydn “Earthquake” from The Seven Last Words of Christ
  • Beethoven The Creatures of Prometheus Overture
  • Beethoven The Ruins of Athens: Turkish March
  • Walsh & Sonnenberg Confluence
  • Dawson Negro Folk Symphony

 Tickets for this unique symphonic experience start at just $20 and are available now. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please visit AkronSymphony.org.