Strike Zones was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra with a grant from the June and John Hechinger Commissioning Fund and premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC with solo percussionist Evelyn Glennie on October 4, 2001. Leonard Slatkin conducted.
I have always loved percussion and was honored to be asked to write a percussion concerto for the extraordinary Evelyn Glennie. Most percussion instruments are struck (hence the word “strike” in the title) and I decided to have the percussion placed across the front of the stage with the soloist moving from one “zone” to another — starting with the more fragile vibraphone and ending with a tour de force of drums. The other “zones” include a marimba solo, a cymbal/hi-hat group, an ensemble of smaller/softer instruments (like the maraca, piccolo woodblock, castanet), a xylophone solo, and a trio with two other players placed in the hall echoing/“reverberating” the glockenspiel (with crotales) and the castanets (with more castanets).
The orchestra provides support and amplification of color and rhythm for the particular DNAs of the instruments.
— Joan Tower