Compendium is one of the most challenging and rewarding works in our catalog. With this masterwork, the composer of the epic Twilight Offering Music asserts himself as a powerful voice among today's composers. This aggressive and exciting work features an original, sophisticated structural design and an idiosyncratic harmonic language. Though virtually all keyboard parts can be executed with two mallets, Wilkins pushes two mallet technique to its limit with extended double-stroke passages and wide leaps in rolled, legato melodic lines. This 13-minute work is written for a full keyboard ensemble (including bass marimba), plus timpani and a wide range of battery instruments.
Genre: Percussion Ensemble | # of Players: 11
Level: Difficult | Duration: 11:45
Player 1 (orchestra bells, chimes, timbales, medium gong, medium cymbal)
Player 2 (xylophone, medium cymbal, 3 tuned gongs, bass drum)
Player 3 (xylophone, crotales, medium large gong, snare drum, 2 brake drums, small cymbal)
Player 4 (vibraphone, 5 almglocken, large gong)
Player 5 (vibraphone, 5 concert toms, Chinese cymbal)
Player 6 (4-octave marimba, temple blocks)
Player 7 (4.3-octave marimba, large cymbal)
Player 8 (4.3-octave marimba, bongos)
Player 9 (4.3-octave marimba 4 log drum pitches)
Player 10 (5-octave marimba, 2 congas)
Player 11 (5 timpani, orchestra bells, small gong)
At first glance, the eight years that separate Twilight Offering Music and Compendium seem to bear witness to a drastic change in aesthetic orientation for Blake Wilkins: on the surface, the differences between these two pieces are striking. Yet Compendium is not fundamentally that far removed from Twilight Offering Music. They seem more to occupy different points on a continuum. Compendium simply brings to the forefront and provides an enhanced focus on the primary issues that have informed the bulk of Wilkins' compositions to date: a fascination with coherent organic structures; a preoccupation with the interaction of disparate closed-ended processes; the cultivation of virtuosity in the context of ensemble playing; and the generation of unique and compelling sound worlds.
Written between June and September of 1994, Compendium is the result of a commission granted by the University of Oklahoma Percussion Ensemble. It began as a significantly different piece bearing the title "17 Essays on Parametric Transmogrification Presented Coetaneously and In a Single Movement." Wilkins quickly discovered, however, that the broad outline of abstract principles he intended the work to embody would have resulted in a composition that rivaled Twilight Offering Music in length. The composer`s central strategy was to isolate the normally integrated parameters of music ú rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, timbre and so forth ú and submit them to various closed-ended transformational processes. The seventeen resulting processes, or "essays," would be of different lengths, starting and ending at different points in the music. Some would last for less than a minute, others would extend through the entirety of the piece. They would overlap and intersect, yet always remain self-contained.
This strategy is also the primary focus of Compendium, which even uses some of the music intended for original. Thus, Compendium is precisely that ú a summary of the principles developed in the 17 Essays, focusing mostly on those processes dealing with rhythmic and melodic transformations. But while derivative of the 17 Essays, Compendium is a substantially different work. "As for the fate of 17 Essays on Parametric Transmogrification," writes the composer, "I am loath not to complete it, lest I might disappoint those who have assured me the title is too good to waste...."
Compendium was commissioned by the University of Oklahoma Percussion Ensemble, Richard C. Gipson, Conductor. It received its premiere performance November 18, 1994, by the Ensemble at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Gipson conducting.
About the OU Percussion Press
In 1977 the OU Percussion Orchestra and Ensemble embarked on a project that developed into a national model for the encouragement and development of new music for percussion ensemble. The OU Percussion Ensemble Commissioning Series regularly engages outstanding composers to write works for this medium. The Commissioning Series is responsible for the creation of some of today`s staples in the percussion ensemble repertoire.
In 1983 the University of Oklahoma funded the establishment of the OU Percussion Press, a non-profit extension of the percussion area. Through the Percussion Press, the commissioning series compositions plus other works expressly written for the OU Percussion Orchestra and Ensembles have been made available for purchase and performance by the world`s leading percussion ensembles. The Percussion Press` catalog numbers more than 50 works, all published in a non-profit venture as a service to the profession.