"Z Concerto" for Marimba, Percussion and Orchestra
Year of Published: 1992
Publisher: Norsk Musikforlag
Duration: Approximately 17 min. ~ 22 min. (including player's cadenza)
The "Z" in the title of this concerto stands for the Japanese zomeki, a word used since at least the 11th century to describe gay frolic and merry-making. The word also describes the rhythm of Awa-odori, a Japanese ethnic dance with a awing-like beat which originated in my birthplace, Tokushima, one of Shikoku's four major cities. Every August, million people gathered from everywhere and several ten thousands residents take to the streets in traditional costume to take part in festivals which feature dizzying displays of Awa-odori, So original and widely appreciated is the atmosphere of these festivals that Japanese hearing the characteristic zomeki beat immediately associates it with Awa-odori.
I have worked to incorporate this rhythm into my serious compositions for over 20 years, beginning with my 1970 ensemble piece for traditional Japanese instruments, "Convexity". Since then, the rhythm has appeared in many of my works. With "Z Concerto", the rhythmic patterns I explored in "Convexity" have evolved, been developed with new melodic themes, and have taken on new meaning as they are carried by a completely different medium - marimba, percussion, and an orchestra. The melodies, colored in an unique tone-series based on traditional Okinawan scales, are set against the Zomeki rhythm to lend a scherzando feeling to the piece.
In a previous composition for marimba and percussion, "Marimba Spiritual", I used throughout a very even rhythm which is strongly in contrast with the swing-like zomeki beat. In this sense, "Marimba spiritual" and "Z Concerto" are at opposite ends of the musical spectrum. I was so impression with the Safri Duo's performance of the two-man version of "Marimba Spiritual" that I have provided a place near the end of "Z Concerto" for the performers to insert their own cadenzas.
I begun composing "Z Concerto" in March 1992 upon receiving a commission from the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, and completed the work on May 19, 1992. The world debut performance has taken place on October 15, 1992 by the Safri Duo and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, under the conducting of Michael Schonwandt. "Z Concerto" is dedicated to Mrs. Hanne Wilhelm Hansen, whose efforts made this project possible and to whom I am deeply grateful.
3 Flutes (3rd doubling Piccolo)
3 Oboes (3rd doubling Cor Anglais)
3 Clarinets in Bb (3rd doubling Bass Clarinet)
1 Double Bassoon
4 Horns in F
3 Trumpets in C
2 Tenor Trombones
1 Bass Trombone