Corigliano, Dorman: Percussion Concerti

Corigliano, Dorman: Percussion Concerti
Concerning Conjurer (originally called TriplePlay), a concerto for percussion soloist and string orchestra to be premiered February 2008 in Pittsburgh, John Corigliano admits: "At first, all I could see were problems."

John is going to stretch the boundaries of the percussion concerto...we need this from more composers.
— Evelyn GlennieAfter being courted for years by one of the world's leading percussion soloists, Evelyn Glennie, and orchestras around the world — Pittsburgh, Dallas, Nashville, Scotland, Canada, and Portugal — Corigliano agreed to the challenge. What unlocked the problem for Corigliano was realizing that "in this concerto it was important that the percussionist use not more, but less...the virtuosity of percussion soloists is dazzling and often breathtaking, but you have to take care that the singular identity of the player isn't lost amid all those bangs and crashes." Everything in Corigliano's concerto evolved from the solution to this conundrum — including the second movement's long-lined melody for both bowed and struck vibraphone, and in the finale, the piquant conversation among timpani, talking drum, and kick-drum. "I loved the idea of an orchestral instrument, a nightclub drum, and an African folk drum all engaged in the same conversation."

For Corigliano's protégé, Avner Dorman, the solution to the problem of the percussion-soloist couldn't have come more naturally. For his December 2007 premiere in Hamburg, Germany of Frozen in Time, with soloist Martin Grubinger and the Hamburg Philharmonic, Dorman finds his answer in the universal language of rhythm. Dorman's work unites rhythm across borders — a concept that Dorman easily distills from his own globetrotting life. For Dorman, knowing Mozart and South Indian talas are equally important. "World musics have so much in common rhythmically," he comments. "Rhythm is the heart of music…having the percussion in the front of the orchestra is very liberating for me as a composer."

Avner is the perfect composer to create such a globalization concerto...this composition is a statement for humanism and tolerance...[and] is a new step forward for our instrument.
— Martin GrubingerDorman credits Corigliano for having significant influence on him. He points out, "this concerto is formally linked to principles that very much come from John." As influential as Corigliano was on Dorman, "he never tried to impose his musical views…that's why he is such a great teacher." Corigliano reciprocates the compliment, proudly hailing Dorman a "composer absolutely of the first rank."Photos:
Evelyn Glennie by J. Wilson, © EG Images
Martin Grubinger by Christian Steiner