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Art and the Rain (2008)
Instrumentation: solo marimba
Commission: Michigan State University for Gwendolyn Burgett Thrasher
Premiere: Gwendolyn Burgett Thrasher, Interlochen Arts Academy,
Interlochen, MI (June 2008)
In the summer of 1997, I heard Yo-Yo Ma play three of J.S. Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello at Tanglewood. The concert took place in the festival’s open-air venue, the Shed, during a relentless downpour. Art and the Rain – the title is borrowed from a section of the poet Pablo Neruda’s Memoirs – juxtaposes material from the familiar Prelude of the First Suite in G Major, BWV 1007, with my own music, here associated with the rain. The marimba readily inhabits both worlds: the Suites are often performed on the instrument, while its sound evokes the imagery of water. My piece isn't concerned with Bach’s music so much as with my recollection of Ma's eloquent, intensely focused performance, refracted through weather and memory.
Art and the Rain was commissioned by Michigan State University for Gwendolyn Burgett Thrasher, who premiered the work at the Interlochen Arts Academy in June 2008.