Medium: Solo Vibraphone with Piano
Publisher: C. Alan Publications
Difficulty: Grade 5
Mvt. I: Caleb Pickering, vibraphone
Mvt. II: Caleb Pickering, vibraphone
Commissioned by Dr. Lisa Rogers (percussion professor at Texas Tech University), the first movement of the Concerto for Vibraphone and Percussion Ensemble received its premiere in November 2009 at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in Indianapolis by Lisa Rogers and the Brazoswood High School Percussion Ensemble, directed by Eric Harper. It will be premiered in its entirety at the International Society for Music Education (ISME) Conference in Beijing, China in August 2010 by the Texas Tech University Percussion Ensemble, directed by Allan Shin, with Dr. Lisa Rogers as the vibraphone soloist.
One of my favorite sources of inspiration for my compositions is poetry – especially that of Pablo Neruda. It's so passionate and filled with vivid imagery that it's just a blast to try and portray his words with music. I knew from the outset that Lisa Rogers (the commissioning party) wanted a 2-movement concerto, so I decided to try and find two poems with opposing themes and stumbled upon Neruda's collection "Ode to Opposites." I chose "Ode to Nighttime" and "Ode to Enchanted Light" which pit night against day.
Ode to Nighttime by Pablo Neruda (I. Night’s Song – “El Canto de la Noche”)
For the first movement, Night’s Song, I tried to depict this mysterious, starry night that gradually turns dark and rainy. The phrases that really spoke to me and shaped the music were “behind daylight,” “you thrash around the sky,” “you run wild over the savage flow of rivers,” and rain and darkness are the blade of a singing sword while stars, or jasmine petals, gaze from blackened heights.” I love how Neruda describes daylight as being born nighttime, so I decided to make the movements attacca so that the second movement, Enchanted Light, bursts forth out of the first movement.
Ode to Enchanted Light by Pablo Neruda (II. Enchanted Light – “La Luz Encantada”)
The second movement is much more sparkly and bright, depicting the “light dropping from the top of the sky.” The “cicada sending its sawing song high into the empty air” even makes an appearance when the ensemble vibraphone player places pennies on the bars and then bows those bars with optional help from a sizzle cymbal. Motives and themes from the first movement return in several spots throughout the second movement helping to unify the work. The soloist gets a workout as well in the tour-de-force second movement, unlike the much more introspective first movement.