Marimba Concerto
for marimba & chamber orchestra
Percussion Area




Catalogue of works

index of works

Programme notes


Reviews & articles

Audio excerpts




Total duration: approx. 19'

In Marimba Concerto I used rhythm to generate the form and structure of the piece which consists of 3 distinct sections or movements played continuously. Although the 3 sections are different in character their development is based on 2 rhythmic motives which are present throughout the piece. In the opening bars the first rhythmic motive is introduced by the clarinets. It consists of a repeated note which grows faster and louder before it ends or 'resolves' in an echo-like figure which fades away. I used this first motive to create the impression that the instruments which are playing it accelerate or decelerate as if governed by their own pulse, quite independently from the other instruments of the orchestra which continue to play a steady pulse.
The second rhythmic motive is introduced by the marimba and it consists of a fast and brief group of notes similar to what in rock music is called a 'riff'. It is too short to be perceived as a true melody and yet it is its melodic contour as much as its rhythm shape what gives it character and identity.
The two rhythmic motives of the piece are extremely simple. I was interested in creating complexity out of combining simple elements so that the complexity would be in the process rather than in the things in themselves.
I wanted to create ambiguity as the outcome of sharp, well defined rhythmic pulses. I imagined a listener comfortably tapping his foot to the Marimba Concerto in one bar, only to be lost in a vertigo of uncertainty on the next one, in spite of having the feeling that a pulse which he cannot hold on to, is still there.

MARIMBA CONCERTO was jointly commissioned by the Antwerpen Festival 1993 and the Arts Council of Great Britain for Robert Van Sice.

The work received its premiere on the 21st of June, 1993 at the Grand Salle of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. It was performed by the Ensemble l'Itineraire conducted by Pascal Rophe. The soloist was Robert Van Sice.