At long last, I’ve finished my latest piece titled “Meanwhile in a Parallel Universe.” It’s written to feature a solo marimba accompanied by percussion ensemble and is scheduled to premiere in Singapore in March 2012.
The piece was a joint commission from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory in Singapore (Jonathan Fox, director), and Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA (Dr. Gifford Howarth, director). Giff first approached me about this project a year ago, and it came with the blessing (and curse) of not really being due until Fall of this year. Since most of my time these days has been dedicated to keeping the wheels turning with Tapspace, my challenge lied in dedicating writing time in smaller increments over a longer span of time.
I don’t usually tend to work this way. Usually, I dive into a project and it consumes most of my energy until the heavy lifting is done. In many ways, this piece still did consume me. However, it was spread out over a much longer span of time than I’m used to. Before it started taking shape or making much sense, I spent the majority of my time sketching ideas without worrying how they related to each other. Interestingly, this helped generate a wider range of ideas, which ultimately led to my decision to make it a more episodic piece in three parts.
My serious marimba-playing days are long behind me (not that they were ever there), yet the piece really needed to drive on Giff’s command of whiz-bang 4-mallet dexterity. Hopefully it will accomplish this without shedding too much light on the fear it brought me. Also, it was important to me that the ensemble wasn’t just window dressing for the soloist, but that they also didn’t compete. As it turns out, they both rely pretty heavily on each other. Technicalities aside, my hope is that it paints a fantasy-like adventure into which listeners can be easily drawn, while still being left guessing which way the road is going to turn.