Composer: Robert Oetomo
Instrument: Marimba and String Ensemble
Duration: 20 min.
It is common amongst most classical percussionists to find that their musical training and background started with piano or drum kit. My musical background was both as a pianist and a drummer, and in composing this marimba concerto, I wanted to fuse together these contrasting backgrounds. Soar is the collaboration of both western classical music and rock ‘n’ roll.
For inspiration whilst composing this concerto, I drew upon the music of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Dvořák and Stravinsky, along with the musical aspects of rock ‘n’ roll. Soar is a standard three-movement concerto (fast, slow, fast) with a marimba cadenza linking the first movement to the second. Movements one and three contain the rhythmically driving elements of rock ‘n’ roll, whilst the second movement favours more towards components of western classical music. However, all movements contain elements of both genres.
The first movement is based around the ‘Sonata’ form. Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring played a prominent role in influencing the driving quaver figures that use accent displacement to create syncopation. This can be heard in the opening and closing of this movement played by the marimba and lower strings. Harmonically, these figures were inspired by rock ‘n’ roll. A concise yet virtuosic cadenza presents various technical and musical challenges and demands linking the first two movements together.
The second movement is a lament expressing one’s sorrow over the sudden and unexpected passing away of a dear auntie. The subtitle of this movement, Rainbow’s Lament, derives from the name of my auntie’s café in Indonesia (Depot Pelangi, which is Indonesian for Rainbow Café).
The lyrical nature of this movement was inspired by the second movement of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in e minor “From the New World”, Op. 95, B. 178. The movement is primarily a dialogue (call-and-response) between the soloist and the string orchestra. The solo marimba part is written in a chorale style (using the ‘rolling’ technique to depict the sound, colour and texture of a choir). The shape of the movement is based on an arch, symbolising a complete semicircle of a rainbow.
The third and final movement combines all the technical and musical challenges found in the previous movements and the cadenza, and also presents new technical and musical challenges. The opening of the third movement (quasi cadenza) was inspired by the opening of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, Op. 58. Other works by Beethoven and Rachmaninoff were also inspirations for this final movement.
Soar: Concerto No. 1 for Marimba and String Orchestra received its world premiere performance on 01 December 2013 by the composer himself as soloist with Impronta – Ensemble für Neue Musik at St. Josef Kirche, Mannheim-Lindenhof, Germany.
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Marimba and String Ensemble
Soloist/Composer: Robert Oetomo (Australia)
Violin I: Liana Svensson (USA/Sweden)
Violin II: Tianjiao Yang (China)
Viola: Rodolfo Mijares Cótiz (Venezuela)
Cello: Domenico Milone (Italy)
Double Bass: Klaudia Wielgórecka (Poland)
Piano: Seoung-eun Cha (South Korea)
About the composer +
Indonesian-born Australian percussionist and composer Robert Oetomo (b. 1988) studied his Master of Music (Künstlerische Ausbildung) degree in performance at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Mannheim, where he received highest distinction for his final graduation recital in 2014. He completed his Bachelor of Music (Performance) Honours Class I at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Australia in 2010. His previous teachers include Professor Dennis Kuhn, Jasmin Kolberg, Claire Edwardes, Daryl Pratt, Richard Miller and Gary Wain. He has accumulated many national and international awards including third prize in the Vibraphone category of the 9th Percussive Arts Society Italy International Percussion Competition in 2011, the ‘Just Percussion Marimba Prize’ at the Australian Percussion Gathering (APG) 2010, first prize in both the Open Marimba and Open Vibraphone categories of the 2010 Australian Percussion Eisteddfod and second prize at the 2008 Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Snare Drum Award. He also won the 2010 Sydney Conservatorium Percussion Concerto Competition, and was finalist in the 2012 Yamaha Music Foundation Europe Scholarship Competition.
A versatile percussionist, Robert has performed with different orchestras and ensembles including the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn, the Kurpfälzischen Kammerorchester Mannheim, the Australian Youth Orchestra, Synergy Percussion and Mannheimer Schlagwerk. He presented his paper, ‘The Transcription of J. S. Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites for the Modern Marimba,’ at APG 2010 Symposium ‘Moving Ground – The Changing Face of Percussion’. Robert was invited to perform his work, The Legend of the Golden Snail, at the Gala Concert of APG 2010, performing with highly acclaimed percussionists including Steve Schick, Sylvio Gualda and Kuniko Kato.
As a composer, Robert passionately advocates the development of percussion music. He has composed numerous works for percussion which have been performed all over the world. His first symphonic work, Spirit of The Dreaming with solo didgeridoo, was premiered at the ‘2008 Aurora Music Festival’ in Sydney, Australia. Later that year, it was performed again with renowned didgeridoo soloist, William Barton. Robert was selected for the 2010 Ku-Ring-Gai Philharmonic Orchestra Composers' Workshop program during which he composed his new orchestral work, Reflections on an Island’s Landscape, under the mentorship of composer Nigel Butterley and John Peterson. His works are published by Edition Svitzer and Tapspace Publications. Robert is an Encore Mallets, Inc. endorser.
Front Cover graphics and layout: Evi O. (www.evi-o.com)
Photo: Hari Oetomo
Engraving: Robert Oetomo
Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark
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