Sherman / Petcu Duo


Ed Bennett Twister

Aine Mallon Arboreal

Kevin O’Connell Encuentro

Siobhan Cleary Scheherezade ‘The Art of the Trickster’

Nick Roth Sophia x Bythos

Ed Bennett – Twister (2023)

1 : One that twists. especially : a ball with a forward and spinning motion. 2. : a tornado, waterspout, or dust devil in which the rotatory ascending movement of a column of air is especially apparent.

twist someone’s arm idiom

twist tie

twist/turn the knife (in the wound) idiom




twists phrase



This piece was commissioned with funds from PRS Beyond Borders

Aine Mallon – Arboreal (2023)

Arboreal is a piece about communication between trees. Hub trees, otherwise known as Mother Trees, can recognise their offspring and send communications, warnings and most vitally nutrients to their offspring, as well as other trees. They send electrical pulses through their root systems that travel underground through the web of mycelial network and up through the root systems of other trees. The mycelium that weave through the roots of trees, like an extremely dense web highway, exchange information and nutrients in this symbiotic relationship to allow both fungi and trees to thrive. In Arboreal, the wooden sounds of the percussion and viola weave the narrative of the communication, transformation and reception of these messages from Mother Trees to their young.

Kevin O’Connell – Encuentro

Encuentro is the word used for the confrontation between the matador

and the bull in a corrida It seemed an appropriate image for this musical

encounter between two very contrasting sound-sources Like the bull,

thev iola takes the lead In response, the percussion plots its moves, strategically dodging the viola part while venturing counter-thrusts

of its own. 

This piece was commissioned with funds from PRS Beyond Borders

Siobhan Cleary – Scheherezade ‘The Art of the Trickster’

This was commissioned by Nathan Sherman and Alex Petcu as part of a bigger project by various composers who were asked to reflect on Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious through new work.

One of the most universal archetypes is the Trickster figure. A figure that crosses and often breaks both physical and societal rules, navigating their way through their wit. Scheherazade is a compassionate trickster who uses her skills in speech and storytelling to save herself and countless other women. By ending her captivating stories on a cliffhanger for 1001 nights, she saves herself from the fate of her predecessors. She also makes the strategic decision to begin with misogynistic adultery tales because they are the most likely ones to catch the sultan’s interest. After these opening stories, Scheherazade expands her retinue to include tales of humour , adventure, war, morality, and love. As her stories build one upon the other, the portrait she presents of women becomes much more varied and diverse, revealing a complex assortment of women who are strong, intelligent, and decisive. Many other trickster figures among them , such as Dalila the Wiley and her daughter, Tawaddud, Princess Budur and Miriam the sash- maker.

This piece pays tribute to Rimsky-Korsakov’s “ Scheherazade “ , exploring some of the interior sound world of that piece and bringing it to the fore.

Commissioned by Nathan Sherman and Alex Petcu with funds from The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon 

Nick Roth Sophia x Bythos
“In the beginning were Darkness, Chaos, and Water (skotos, kai bythos, kai hydōr), but the Spirit indwelling in the midst of them, divided them one from another. From the intermingling of Darkness with Spirit proceeds the mētra which again is kindled with fresh desire after the Spirit; she gives birth first to four, and then to other four aeons, and so produces a right and a left, light and darkness. Last of all comes forth an aischros aiōn, who has intercourse with the mētra, the offspring whereof are Gods, Angels, Daemons, and Spirits.”

— Epiphanius, Haer. 25, 5

Sophia x Bythos was a collaborative commission from Nathan Sherman and Alex Petcu for The Archetypes Project, responding to themes in Carl Jung’s seminal 1959 work “The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious”.

When I was tasked with the Unconscious itself, my first thought was of water and its reflections, envisioning an immersive work for viola with aquarium, mirror and light. Reading Jung’s work during the research phase, I was thus reassured to read: “Therefore the way of the soul in search of its lost father – like Sophia seeking Bythos – leads to the water, to the dark mirror that reposes at its bottom.” This passage seemed a remarkably affirmative coincidence and eventually became, as a redux, the title of the piece itself.  

Diving deeper into the myth of Sophia, the Gnostic goddess of Wisdom, and her father Bythos, the Abyssic Monad from whence she came, I discovered the Panarion, a 4th century work by Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, recounting, and critiquing, the Gnostic genesis myths of his contemporaries. From one such description comes the epigraph above, which served as both the underlying formal structure for the work and a representation of the arisal process of the conscious from unconscious. Each of the images in the passage figures as a motif in the work, with the aischros aiōn, or broken time, taking the form of the belljar, which dictates the rhythmic architecture for the second, conscious, half.

Lastly, curious about the origins of the Greek word mētra (womb), I discovered that it shares etymological roots with the words ‘metre’ and ‘matrix’. This therefore drew a thread between Sophia and the Creation and Annihilation operators, mathematical functions that find widespread use in the study of quantum chromodynamics and harmonic oscillators…light and the possibility of light. This closing of the circle inspired the final piece of the puzzle, with the inclusion of the prismatic.

Sophia x Bythos received its premiere in Café Oto, London on Sunday 18th June 2023. 

Artist biographies

An Irish musician of Romanian origin, Alex is quickly establishing himself both nationally and internationally as a percussionist of the finest calibre. His debut album, “Alex Petcu: In Time”, released on the RTE lyric fm label, showcases both seminal works and new contributions to the percussion repertoire.

Alex performs in a wide variety of settings with a multitude of orchestras, ensembles and groups, however, his main specialty lies in solo and chamber music. As a soloist, recent appearances include performances at the West Cork Chamber Music FestivalKilruddery House and National Concert Hall to name a few. He has performed as a soloist with both RTE orchestras and the Irish Chamber Orchestra, and had successes in major national and international competitions such as the Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the YearTromp and A.R.D. International competitions.

Alex enjoys being involved in the creation of new music for percussion and regularly collaborates with composers. Examples of recent projects include “Beats, Bells and Bridges” and the Abbey Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, both collaborations with composer Tom Lane“A Most Peculiar Wintry Thing”, a children’s show jointly commissioned by The Ark and Music Network with music composed by Brian Irvine and “Invitation to a Journey”, a dance/theatre/music collaboration with music by Deirdre Gribbin. He is a regular performer with the Crash and Hard Rain ensembles, two of Ireland’s main contemporary groups, and is a founding member of the Bangers and Crash Percussion Group, a new exciting percussion ensemble.

Alex also enjoys performing in an orchestral setting and is a regular extra player for the various professional ensembles in Ireland such as the RTE SymphonyRTE ConcertIrish ChamberIrish Baroque and Ulster orchestras.

Aside from his performing activities, he is also a keen teacher and currently teaches percussion at the CIT Cork School of Music. He has also given lecture recitals at Ireland’s universities, provided workshops for West Cork Music’s “Tuning Up” outreach scheme, Music Network, the ESB and more. He also holds an MA in music performance from the CIT Cork School of Music and an MSc and BSc in Physics from University College Cork.

American-born violist Nathan Sherman has been based in Dublin since 1999 and enjoys a career collaborating with other adventurous musicians. His curiosity and eclecticism allows him to present work ranging from Schütz and Purcell, to experimenting with heavy metal. Nathan is a tireless commissioner and his “commanding and assured” performances (Journal of Music) have brought him around the world.

As founding member and Artistic Director of the acclaimed chamber group Ficino Ensemble, Nathan performs a vast amount of music and has released two albums. Folk Songs included works by Luciano Berio and was described as “bewitching new interpretations by the Irish chamber group”. (Guardian) The album was included in the Guardian’s Top 10 of 2022 and best of Bandcamp’s contemporary classical. The group also enjoy creating opportunities for younger composers through their yearly workshop series.

Nathan has premiered over 100 works and his work has been presented on radio stations worldwide. Current projects include preparations for a new album with percussionist Alex Petcu. As a duo their fusion of unique sounds and performances have been described as “sheer perfection” (SOUND Scotland) and their debut album Totemic was given four stars in the Irish Times.  In 2024, Nathan will record an album of new music for viola and electronics and present it at New Music Dublin and in the USA. Nathan is a member of Stone Drawn Circles, a new music group which will debut at HCMF.

Nathan regularly plays with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Irish Baroque Orchestra, Crash Ensemble, and Evlana. In 2013, Nathan and his wife created the Offbeat Ensemble, a community orchestra in Dublin which regularly raises money to buy instruments for children.

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