Jennifer Higdon - Percussion Concerto

October 19, 2018

She-e Wu, percussion

Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto follows the normal relationship of a dialogue between soloist and orchestra. In this work, however, there is an additional relationship with the soloist interacting extensively with the percussion section.

Higdon says, “When writing a concerto I think of two things: the particular soloist for whom I am writing and the nature of the solo instrument. In the case of percussion, this means a large battery of instruments, from vibraphone and marimba (the favorite instrument of soloist Colin Currie [for whom the work was written]), to non-pitched smaller instruments (brake drum, wood blocks, Peking Opera gong), and to the drums themselves.

“Not only does a percussionist have to perfect playing all of these instruments, but he must make hundreds of decisions regarding the use of sticks and mallets, as there is an infinite variety of possibilities from which to choose. Not to mention the choreography of the movement of the player; where most performers do not have to concern themselves with movement across the stage during a performance, a percussion soloist must have every move memorized. No other instrumentalist has such a large number of variables to challenge and master.”

Jennifer Higdon is the 2018 recipient of the Bienen School’s Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition. This concert took place during her first Nemmers Prize residency.

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