MEANWHILE IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE REDUX
FOR Marimba and PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE • 9 MINUTES • ADVANCED
Commissioned by Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, PA (Dr. Gifford Howarth, soloist) and the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, Singapore (Jonathan Fox, director).
Premiered at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, Singapore – March 2012
Meanwhile in a Parallel Universe is based on the idea that our brief time on this earth can have any number of outcomes depending on the relationships we build, how present we are, and the decisions we make. As our stories evolve, infinite possibilities are created. The result is an adventure filled with both uncertainty and wonder.
This episodic journey is constructed in three movements featuring a solo marimbist and eight percussionists. Each movement has its own identity, though their melodic and harmonic DNA keep them rooted in the same story. Harmonically, the countless decisions of a lifetime are represented as restated ideas in mediant relations. The consistency of Self is maintained through these harmonic twists by thematic familiarity.
The first movement uses a rhythmic pattern of fifteen beats, revealed clearly when the syncopated bass ostinato enters after the enigmatic introduction. The main theme is then introduced by the soloist, which is restated by the ensemble in fuller orchestration. The movement culminates in a whirlwind fight for survival through the virtuosic acrobatics by the soloist.
The second movement begins with a series of anxious flourishes built on less stable chords using diminished seconds and augmented fifths. A distant and reflective period follows as the soloist arpeggiates the left hand ostinato while the right hand sustains melancholy one-handed rolls. These build from lonely isolation into ferocious layers of conviction, and eventually achieve a new intense clarity through a pulsating, accelerating unison.
Unlike the first two movements' fifteen-beat motive, the meter in the third switches to a more stable 12/8. The melody is based on the same DNA as before, but proceeds with a newfound sense of conviction. This adventure moves through blazing displays of technique from the soloist and culminates in a courageous and confidant march into the new unknown.
Meanwhile in a Parallel Universe was commissioned by Bloomsburg University (Bloomsburg, PA) under the direction of Dr. Gifford Howarth, and the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (Singapore), under the direction of Jonathan Fox and was premiered in Singapore in 2012 featuring Dr. Howarth and the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory percussion ensemble.
Meanwhile in a Parallel Universe Redux is an updated version of the piece which revises it in ways that will help the soloist shine both technically and balance-wise while also reducing the equipment requirements. It also includes an optional, shortened version which significanly reduces the duration of the piece for cases when shorter program or rehearsal timing is required. The redux version was completed in 2014 and premiered at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, IL by the Dickerson Middle School percussion ensemble (Scott Brown, director) with She-e Wu as the soloist.