Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 4, The Marimba

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web.

Throughout his career as a composer, David Maslanka had an affinity for the marimba and appreciated the instrument’s ability to “produce small and beautifully sustained sounds.” This week we bring you exceptional performances of compositions in which Maslanka featured the marimba.

Concerto for Marimba and Band

Commissioned by the U.S. Air Force Band in 1990, Concerto for Marimba and Band is in one large movement. Maslanka commented that “This piece has more the nature of a fantasia than a classical concerto. It is in two large halves, the first very quiet and serene, devoted to rhapsodic melody and transparent textures, and the second starting with a huge dynamic build up and then moving through a relatively brief spurt of fast and fierce music before settling to a quiet and transcendent close.” Watch below as Carl Collins leads Kyle Forsthoff (Marimba) and the University of Kentucky Wind Symphony in an outstanding performance of the Concerto from November 8, 2009.

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Variations on Lost Love

Commissioned by the New York State Music Teachers Association for Leigh Howard Stevens, Variations on Lost Love “pushed the boundaries of four-mallet marimba technique inspired by Stevens’ original approach to the instrument.” This music is constructed as a theme followed by three variations. According to Maslanka however, “My variations are not formal variations on a theme. They are, rather, emotional pictures – a variety of moods, attitudes and feelings that arose from contemplating the poem. They range from mournful and tragic to light-hearted and whimsical.” Watch below as Michael Coleman gives a moving performance of Variations from May 22, 2013.

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Song Book for Alto Saxophone and Marimba

Song Book for Alto Saxophone and Marimba combines two of the instruments for which Maslanka was most well-known. The work has seven movements: “Song for Davy,” “Lost,” “Hymn Tune with Four Variations,” “Serious Music – In Memoriam Arthur Cohn,” “Summer Song,” “Song for Alison,” and “Evening Song.” Watch below as Kyouhei Ebihara (Saxophone) and Takuya Tamura (Marimba) give a stunning performance of the Song Book from March 29, 2013.

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