Concertino for Marimba (Rice)
Commissioner: Trinity High School Percussion Ensemble with Michael Matthew as director
Dedication: Andrew Eldridge
Publisher: Innovative Percussion
Dwayne Rice's Concertino for Marimba features a virtuosic marimba soloist against a backdrop of keyboard percussion instruments. It actually begins with the soloist alone, which does not happen often in this musical genre. While the solo part is advanced, the ensemble parts aren't terribly difficult.
The soloist will need plenty of double- and triple-lateral chops, but the part is quite accessible by accomplished marimbists. This piece is through-composed, and uses the progressive harmonic structures and motive development that Rice is known for which is pleasing for the players as well as the audience.
At around 9 minutes in length, the ensemble parts of Concertino for Marimba could be played by advanced high school or young college students with adequate rehearsal time.
Soloist: 5-Octave Marimba
Player 1: 4.3-Octave Marimba
Player 2: Xylophone
Player 3: Vibraphone
Player 4: Vibraphone
Player 5: 4.3-Octave Marimba
Player 6: 4.3-Octave Marimba
Player 7: 4.3-Octave Marimba
Player 8: 5-Octave Marimba
“Concertino” features a marimba soloist utilizing a five-octave marimba skillfully woven within a mallet septet of xylophone, two vibraphones, and four marimbas. Three of the marimba parts are written for a low-A instrument and the bass part uses a second five-octave marimba. Commissioned by the Trinity High School Percussion Ensemble directed by Michael Mathew and dedicated to Andrew Eldridge, “Concertino” was premiered at PASIC 2006 in Austin, Texas by Trinity High School with Eldridge as the marimba soloist.
After a brief opening chorale by the soloist, “Concertino” begins with a presto 12/8 that gradually adds the entire ensemble before the soloist enters. Here, the real power of the work is focused on the solo marimba.
Written for an advanced player, Rice artfully takes the soloist through motives containing bold eighth-note passages with quick double-lateral passages and sextuplets spanning the range of the instrument. Rice avoids“over writing” and gives both the soloist and the ensemble plenty of space for development. The dialogue and pacing between the soloist and ensemble is strong and compelling. While the solo part is challenging but accessible, the ensemble parts are not too difficult. The work concludes with a powerful statement by the soloist with the ensemble accentuating downbeats. The final moments might have been even stronger had the ensemble imitated the soloist’s musical direction. “Concertino” has an attractive, progressive harmonic atmosphere and there are tuneful sections primarily performed by the vibraphones and xylophone. A through-composed work, Rice combines staggered arpeggiated patterns and ostinatos to create ensemble drive and interest in a similar manner to David Gillingham’s compositions. Yet, while Gillingham’s works often focus on melodic and timbre development, Rice effectively chooses to concentrate on motivic and rhythmic development utilizing texture and chordal shifts. The result is a solid, driving work featuring an advanced marimbist. — Mark Ford 
Works for Percussion by this Composer
- Percussive Notes, June 2007