Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra
Composer: Christopher Swist
Instrument: Marimba and Orchestra
Duration: 27 min.
This concerto was a culmination of my interest in abstract music, orchestral texture and naturally the marimba as a solo instrument. All three movements of the Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra are based on a trio of tetra-chords that form a 12-tone aggregate. This central row and it's resulting canonic harmony form the foundation for the concerto. While still technically challenging, the soloist moves in balance between leading the orchestra and playing an obbligato role. Important to the texture, the glockenspiel player and harpist at times form a trio with the soloist. The music as a whole was sketched and formalized before the solo part was written. This technique allowed me to extract a smaller piece for orchestra alone titled "Inversions" from the material in the first movement. This abridged version was premiered by the OSUNCuyo in Mendoza, Argentina in 2005 under the baton of Marcelo Lehninger.
The first movement while mystical is precisely structured and punctuated by 18 pedal chords in set formation. The second movement is lyrical and closes with the marimba descending in moto perpetuo under a canonic 12-tone rotation in the stings. The third movement draws on my experience as an orchestral section percussionist. The snare drum opens the movement with the standard drum rudiment the Triple Ratamacue. The percussion section then engages in a featured introduction with the soloist and the rest of the orchestra gradually adding to the texture. There is a great deal of interplay between the various section instruments like bass drum, cymbals, tambourine, tam-tam, glockenspiel as well as the timpani. The soloist feeds off the percussion section and vice versa. It was my intention to draw on the great connective spirit of "section" playing that percussionists around the world have experienced.
Marimba and Symphony Orchestra
(Material on Hire)
About the composer +
In 1999, The Instrumentalist stated that Christopher Swist’s published marimba work “should become a part of contemporary four-mallet marimba repertoire.” Since then his compositions have been published and performed across the United States and Canada as well as in Europe, South America, China, and Australia. His first solo CD Whitewater, funded by the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music, was released to critical acclaim in 2001. Percussive Notes found the recording to have “musicality, interest, and excellent sound.” His Percussion Quartets No 1 and No 2 were featured on the 2008 Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordão in Brazil. In 2012, The Bard Conservatory Orchestra premiered Swist’s orchestra piece Abaprima. TMI Arts Page reviewed the premier as having “joyous sound” and “a natural for the orchestra.” Abaprima was also performed in 2013 by The Louisville Orchestra.
In October 2013, his second solo CD, Duality, was released and contains 77-minutes of acoustic and electronic music. Like Whitewater, Duality has also gathered positive reviews on both Swist’s compositional technique and performance style. American Record Guide commented, “The stick work is good, with tight rolls, evenly gradual dynamic increases and decreases, and sharp accents on the ascending and descending motives.” Percussive Notes wrote of Swist’s “compositional range” and noted “Swist shows extreme aptitude and ease in performing all the keyboard instruments.” Percussive Notes also found the “recording quality is excellent” on Duality. Christopher learned recording engineering and sound design from his late father Larry Swist, an internationally acclaimed studio designer, recording engineer, and producer.
Professor Swist is Artist in Residence at Keene State College where he has taught music technology, percussion, composition, and music theory since 2003. He is also on faculty at Franklin Pierce University and has taught at Bennington College, The Hartt School, and Holyoke Community College. He was recently a clinician, soloist, and conductor in Peru for the Ministry of Culture and National Symphony in Lima. Swist was educated at SUNY-Buffalo and The Hartt School, holding two M.M. degrees in both performance and composition. His percussion teachers were Jan Williams, Tony Miranda, John Rowland, Ben Toth, Al Lepak, Glen Velez, Johnny Almendra, and Luiz D’Anunciação. His composition teachers were Jeffrey Stadelman, Stephen Gryc, Robert Carl, Ken Steen, and Ingram Marshall. Christopher is an active symphonic percussionist as well as a contemporary music advocate and often performs with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
Christopher Swist is the president for the New Hampshire / Maine Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. He is also the treasurer and a charter member of the Kappa Pi Chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda (national music honor society).
Christopher Swist is an artist for Sabian Cymbal Makers and Vater Percussion.
Front Cover graphics and layout: Ronni Kot Wenzell
Engraving: Christopher Swist/Johan Svitzer
Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark
Copyright © Edition SVITZER