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Magic Mirror

Composer: Christopher Swist

Instrument: Marimba

Level: Intermediate

Published: 2010

Price: €18.00

Item details

  • Description +
    • Duration: 6 min.

      Magic Mirror is a fantasia for solo 5-octave marimba. It also represents a return to ideas of modal exploration that are found in my earlier marimba compositions. In the spirit of a fantasy, the piece features several textures and modes that are loosely connected. Some of the material was composed on the marimba with other sections and harmonies coming from work with the piano.

      This piece represents my tenth solo for the marimba. This mysterious instrument has always given me a constant source of inspiration and captivation. My first compositions were on and for marimba and I continue to delight in the pure texture and harmonic surprises the instrument can produce. The marimba seems to always find a way to show me a new world of sound.

  • Instrumentation +
    • Marimba

  • 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.

  • Reviews +
    • Review (Percussive Notes, March (58) 2012)


      This six-minute, unaccompanied fantasia for four-mallet marimba opens with steady arpeggiated figures on Bflat, which outline modern sounding yet unconventional harmonies. This loosely tonal composition then transitions (after 18 measures) to a slower and a softer sounding chorale on the lower end of the marimba—which articulates quartal/quintal harmonies that give way again (after 13 measures) to the arpeggios of the opening section.

      Christopher Swist is fond of this type of compositional style (his earlier “Streamline,” for example). Through his use of sixteenth-note triplets, Swist transitions from 4/4 to 6/8, thus establishing a compound-meter groove also characterized by repeatedly descending arpeggios before returning to the compositional reference of his opening 4/4 passage. “Magic Mirror” ends very quietly on an E-flat major triad marked pppp.

      Advanced four-mallet technique and mature musicianship are a prerequisite for an effectual performance of this challenging solo. This selection is appropriate for an audition or a junior percussion recital.

      Jim Lambert

  • Credits +
    • Front Cover graphics and layout: Ronni Kot Wenzell
      Engraving: Christopher Swist/Johan Svitzer
      Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark
      Copyright © Edition SVITZER