Marimba Concerto

Solo Instrument(s) and Orchestra



Solo Instrument(s) and Orchestra

instrumentation - 2 hn; 1 tpt - xyl - str



commissioned by

Vermont Symphony Orchestra and the Kobe Ensemble of Japan

premiered by

Vermont: September, 1997 Japan: November, 1997 Makoto Nakura, soloist

Marimba Concerto (1997) emerged from my close collaboration with marimbist Makoto Nakura, for whom I also composed several solo and chamber works in the Nineties while still a graduate student at the Eastman School of Music. In recent years, rising star Ji Su Jung has championed the concerto and eagerly expressed an interest in recording it. Commissioned by Nakura and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra for a tour around the orchestra’s home state, the concerto’s opening melody was probably inspired by my hearing a pianist warming up on the stage of the Eastman Theater as I passed through it on the way to a class. The harmonic progression he played – a series of chords whose bass line descended by step while the upper notes outlined simple triads – struck me as poignant in its simplicity. I have always felt close to the key of E flat, due its rich qualities and probably also to the many works of Mozart written in this key, in particular two of his piano concertos that served, in many ways, as a model for this concerto. The first movement spins forth from this melody as the marimba embellishes it virtuosically. The second movement, cast in more elegaic hues than the first, employs only the string section of the orchestra, which introduces reflective four-voiced textures that are eventually taken up by the solo marimba. The third movement, an athletic moto perpetuo for the marimbist, gradually recalls the elements of the first movement’s melody, culminating in a reprise of this melody within the context of this final movement’s more dance-like nature.

−Kevin Puts