Concerto for Percussion and Chamber Orchestra
Instrumentation: Chamber Orchestra and Percussion Soloist - Flute/picc., Oboe, Clarinet, Contrabass Clarinet, Basoon, Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Basst Trombone, 2 percussion, Piano, 6 Violins, 4 Violas, 2 Cellos, Electric Bass Guitar
Duration: 25 minutes
Premiered by Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Colin Currie soloist, Jeffrey Millarsky, conductor on May 7, 2012
Commissioned by Los Angeles Philharmonic
Publisher: Bachovich Music Publications
In my percussion concerto, I wanted to deal with creating a symmetrical balance between all of the aspects involved. Most importantly, I wanted to work with the idea of pitched vs. un-pitched, and the oscillation between both directions. The use of pitches or tonal structures give music more meaning in its most obvious use, whereas unpitched instruments are often associated with colors, random sounds, or even noise, with no clear structure, let alone possibilities for counterpoint on their own. And percussion rides the line of both sides, with the sound spectrum being indefinite and not fixed in either direction. This is an endlessly frustrating yet exciting problem to deal with. By allowing this idea to infiltrate the material of the ensemble, I was able to develop an orchestration with rich textures consisting of different levels of “pitch” material all the way to “noise” sounds. All the rhythms, “melodies”, and sounds, would be influenced by the solo material-more specifically, influenced by the instruments themselves and the techniques used to play them. The idea of writing a concerto for percussion usually implies the use of many instruments, a kind of circus of an unlimited sound world and theatrical elements inherent to the physicality of percussion performance. Rather than writing for a vast array of instruments I wanted to focus on getting the maximum color out of only a few instruments. I kept the solo part restricted to a basic setup of unpitched instruments, drums (Part 1), and pitched instruments (Part 2), marimba and vibraphone. The orchestra is also meant to be symmetrical in setup and in balance. With the two other percussion players on either side in the ensemble, I wanted to use instruments that would connect the material between the soloist and the orchestra rather than just commenting on the soloist’s material. Each section has different degrees of sound from tonal to noise-the soloist and orchestra wavers between both, and the two percussionists, often act as the glue to hold these sound materials together. The overall structure of the piece is that of a long line, constantly searching and evolving, yet connected from beginning to end.
After the premiere in 2012, the piece was performed the following season (2013) in Los Angeles and at the Barbican, in London, by the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group with Joseph Pereira as soloist, Gustavo Dudamel, conducting.
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