Atlanta’s Chamber Cartel Get Constructive With ‘Pleiades’

Members of Atlanta contemporary ensemble Chamber Cartel rehearse for their performance of Xenakis’ “Pleiades” at the Goat Farm Arts Center. The homemade sixxen instrument can be seen in the foreground.

If you’re a fan of percussion, this story is for you.

The Atlanta-based contemporary chamber ensemble Chamber Cartel is performing a piece for six percussionists. And they’re using an instrument that the musicians had to build themselves. Reporter Myke Johns joined the ensemble as they rehearsed at the Goat Farm Arts Center to perform “Pleiades” by modern composer Iannis Xenakis.

The composition requires an instrument called a “sixxen,” which Chamber Cartel artistic director Caleb Herron built for this performance. As far as he knows, it’s the first built in Georgia, and the first time “Pleiades” has been performed in the Southeast.

“[Xenakis] was an architect. He studied mathematics,” Herron said. “But the music that he gets is not square and computer-ish and standoffish. It has this supernatural element to it, this elemental force. You just feel like you’re being hit by something that is so great.”

Chamber Cartel performs “Pleiades” at the Goat Farm Saturday, Oct. 3 at 8 p.m.