Year of Published: 1984
Marimba Spiritual by Minoru Miki is one of the most well-known, widely performed, and historically important pieces for marimba ever written. This piece of music gained even wider fame when it was highlighted on Broadway with the show Blast! Written as a response to the starvation and famine happening in Africa during the 1980's, this solo is written in two distinct sections: a slow, static requiem followed by a lively resurrection. The second section is often performed by itself. This original version of Marimba Spiritual is written for solo marimba accompanied by three percussionists on traditional Japanese instruments, and is the recommended way to perform the piece to gain the maximum intended effect. More easily attainable percussion instruments can be substituted. The opening requiem is accompanied by ethereal metallic and wooden sounds that are reminiscent of a Japanese temple, and the lively resurrection features traditional drumming (including a drum solo that demands serious single stroke chops). Getting every body to play together - especially in the nebulous opening - can be a challenge. Marimbists playing this piece should definitely be prepared to burn through blistering single-independent and single-alternating strokes in the second section. It's fast, incredibly energetic, and will certainly make an exciting and virtuosic closer for any recital.
The piece was commissioned by NHK, but marimba player Keiko Abe requested the particular arrangement for marimba. The first performance was on March 18, 1984 in Amsterdam with Ms. Keiko Abe and the Nieuwe Slagwek Groep Amsterdam.