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Steven Stucky - "Concerto for Percussion and Wind Orchestra"

September 25, 2016

Concerto for Percussion and Wind Orchestra

   1. Energico

   2. Moderato delicato, quasi senza tempo

   3. Vivace

   4. Grave (To the Victims of September 11, 2001)

   5. Gioioso

 

Steven Stucky

Born: November 7, 1949, Hutchinson, Kansas

Died: February 14, 2016, Ithaca, New York

Instrumentation: Wind Orchestra and Percussion Soloist

Composed: 2001

Duration: 20 minutes

 

The huge array of solo instruments in my Concerto for Percussion and Wind Orchestra is the result of a request from the soloist, Gordon Stout, not to limit myself mainly to the marimba (of which he is, of course, a famous exponent) but instead to range widely across all the percussion families. There are a number of timbral groupings: wood and drum sounds in the first movement, set against boisterous, big-band-like riffs from the ensemble, for example; or marimba paired with steel drum as the lyrical voices in the slow second movement. The third movement, a scherzo, uses only keyboards – glockenspiel, xylophone, marimba – and it winks broadly at Strauss's Til Eulenspiegel. The fourth movement turns to solemn, metallic resonances – gongs, Japanese temple bells, almglocken (tuned European cowbells) – and it sets these against the ominous heartbeat pattern of the bass drum. This movement reflects the somber atmosphere of fall 2001 more directly than I ever intended. Ordinarily I am skeptical of musical responses to outside events, and I never planned to write a piece "about" the attacks of September 11; yet, as I was writing this movement I asked myself why the music seemed so dark, so serious, and only then I realized that the world had thrust itself into my music whether I wanted it or not. Hence the dedication "To the victims of September 11, 2001," added after the fourth movement was finished. The finale returns to the extroverted atmosphere of the first movement, with the soloist – now playing metal instruments that go "clunk" (agogo bells, Latin-American cowbells, brake drums, anvil) and "boing" (the spring from an automobile suspension) – trading riffs with the ensemble. The work closes with a return to the wood and skin sounds of the opening.

 

The concerto was commissioned in honor of Donald Hunsberger on the occasion of his retirement after nearly forty years as director of the Eastman Wind Ensemble, by a consortium of his ex-students, many of the leading wind conductors across the United States and even abroad. The work was completed on November 30, 2001, and the percussionist Gordon Stout and the Ithaca College Wind Ensemble (Stephen Peterson, director) gave the first performance at the Eastman Theater in Rochester, New York, on February 6, 2002, with Donald Hunsberger conducting.

- Steven Stucky

 

Steven Stucky was an active American composer and teacher up until his sudden death from a brain tumor in early 2016. His music was widely accessible, vibrant, and programmed by numerous orchestras worldwide, and he enjoyed a 21-year residency with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Stucky's 2003 Concerto for Orchestra No. 2 was awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

 

Additional Stucky Resources

   - Website and Full Biography

   - NPR Interview on the 2005 Pulitzer Prize

   - New York Times Obituary

 

Concerto for Orchestra No. 2, Movement 1, Overture (With Friends)

Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Lan Shui, conductor

 

Concerto for Orchestra No. 2, Movement 2, Variations

Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Lan Shui, conductor

 

Concerto for Orchestra No. 2, Movement 3, Finale

Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Lan Shui, conductor

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