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Excerpt 1 - Fanfare & Theme

This concerto for 4 players & orchestra is a vehicle to explore a vast array or percussion that you may or may not know. 

Whilst it seems to be a battle between the orchestra and percussionists – it's not!   However,  at times. the exchange of ideas may seem to make it appear that they are adversaries.

In composing this concerto, I decided I would approach with the visual as well as the sound colours in mind.  I begin with traditional percussion instruments – timpani, snare drum, bass drum & suspended cymbal - with a pianissimo to fortissimo roll. This launches to a mixed meter fanfare in a spirit of question and answer.  In each new section more exotic instruments are introduced – woodblocks, guiro, duck call, go-go bells, temple blocks, vibra slap, ratchet, etc.  A short Timpani solo follows, punctuated by an orchestral score that features consecutive fifths as its harmonic language.  Wind machine, thunder sheet and tam-tam add to the drama.

The tempo increases and the percussion becomes more delicate with an almost oriental flavour.  Different suspended cymbals sounds are explored along with Chinese bell tree, mark tree, triangles and energy chimes.  Virtuoso snare drum patterns with a return to a variation on the Timpani solo.

Spooky special effects accompany the Water-Phone with its Hollywood film sounds, flutes on whistle tones and strings providing bat squeaks. This morphs into a gentle section of distant bells, bird calls and a sense of calm.

Our reverie is broken with a thundering crash into a Timpani solo which leads to our “Hoe-down”.

Each of our percussionist try to out-do each other on the section described as: “Solo -hit as many different instruments as you can”. This leads to the now famous Beer Bottle section, which provided hours of entertainment as our colleagues on “Orchestra List” discussed the merits and methods of tuning beer bottles.  Naturally, the beer bottle section is accompanied by a Lagerphone.  A circus theme is then introduced, which leads to a surprise section involving paint tins.

A somewhat sad fanfare sounds and we are back to reality with some syncopation between the orchestra and percussionists playing a wide variety of instruments including a fry-pan. We recapitulate to the theme of parallel fifths – with a fresh palette of sounds. Our opening fanfare is restated and we have a brief intervention in the world of wild latin rhythms ,

The Concerto returns to the mixed meter fanfare in the spirit of question and answer – The percussionists have now performed on more than 65 instruments and thunders to the conclusion.

Profound thanks to Maestro Jamin Hoffman for inviting me to write this work.  I enjoyed every moment of the process of creation and it is always a thrill to write for an orchestra of the calibre of the Concord Chamber Orchestra.

This concerto is dedicated to our beautiful Labrador, Libby, who sat next to me for the whole time I spent composing this and many other works. My writing is always inspired by my wife Suzanne, who's encouragement and belief in me knows no bounds.

Sean O'Boyle
May, 2013


World Premiere

Concord Chamber Orchestra

Maestro Jamin Hoffman

18th May 2013

Percussion Section Concerto

Excerpts from a rehearsal - live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Concord Chamber Orchestra - Jamin Hoffman

Excerpt 2 - Slightly Oriental 

Excerpt 3 - Spooky & Woodland

Excerpt 7 - The End 

Excerpt 4- Hoedown (beer bottle)

Excerpt 6- Latin

Excerpt 5- Paint tins

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