The 6 marimbas concert features works by composers from Canada and the United States and offers listeners the opportunity to discover the rich sound of these instruments through works that illustrate a wide variety of playing styles and musical writing.
The program is conceived around Steve Reich’s work, 6 marimbas, written in 1986, which is a transcription of his own piece 6 pianos (1973). It is typical of Reich’s writing of the 1970s, with rhythmic patterns that gradually build and deconstruct, and shifts between instruments in the same musical figure that create a dynamic and intoxicating soundtrack, an essential component of this minimalist music.
Ceremonial Music is a transcription of a work also originally conceived for two pianos, and is the result of the work of Canadian composer and ethnomusicologist Colin McPhee, who was one of the first to study Balinese music in detail and to draw inspiration from it in his creative process, and who has here transposed to the piano original Balinese music heard in Balinese shadow theater and funeral ceremonies. Although different from 6 marimbas, the musical principles are also based on repetitions of short melodic cells and the interweaving of parts, and McPhee’s work has had a definite influence on the development of the minimalist musical movement.
Eric Champagne’s Onde de choc evokes a larger orchestra and starts with repeated chords that become melodies that flow from one instrument to the next, while Jennifer Higdon’s Splendid Wood brings together the six musicians on three instruments to create a rich, dance-like texture that develops over three linked movements.
In contrast, Still Life by Canadian Jordan Nobles creates a long breath without any rhythmic patterns, where all notes are played in a rolling fashion to create an organ effect and produce harmonies that evolve slowly, but continuously, throughout the piece.