A concerto exploring the percussive and rhythmic qualities of the marimba.

Duration: 19' 

Year of Completion: 2002

Soloist: Marimba
Orchestra: picc222Bcl2Cbn 4331 hrp 2perc timp strings

Commissioned by the Boston Conservatory for Nanae Mimura.


Audio Excerpt:

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Composer's Note:

I think of the marimba as an instrument with close ties to its primitive ancestors.  Contemplating its wood bars struck by sticks, I easily imagine a raw music made by the banging of wood, stone, and stretched skins. It is enjoyable to watch percussion music being performed because of the visual excitement being generated. I’ve treated the marimba like a drum with mallets flying around and the performer dancing left and right striking notes with a drama of motion. This drumming excites the primal musical impulse resting within the listener.

The piece starts with an orchestral setting that is also primitive and coarse with throbbing sounds of the anvil and the break drum (taken from cars in junk yards) and the guttural growling of the brass. There is, throughout, a dialogue of imitation between the sounds of the marimba and the orchestra. This happens in the strings through tremolos (imitating those of the marimba) and by plucking (pizzicato).  I have also paired the marimba with other instruments that have similarly punctual attacks and quick decays like the harp, timpani, finger cymbals, log drums, tom-toms, and glockenspiel.  Even the trumpets’ trills and staccatos have an opportunity to dialogue with the marimba.

Some practical considerations have sparked musical ideas. The interval of a fifth, a very ‘open’ sound, is very natural sounding and easy to perform on the marimba.  This interval became a basic building block within the work facilitating flourishes of hyper-velocity in the solo part.  

My concerto is dedicated with great admiration to Richard Ortner.  He has been a tireless supporter of music and musicians.  Thank you Richard.






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