Nathan Daughtrey discusses his percussion ensemble piece, "Concerto for Vibraphone and Percussion Ensemble" (2010). Including performance excerpts by the University of Oklahoma Percussion Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Lance Drege.
ABOUT THE PIECE:
Commissioned by Dr. Lisa Rogers (percussion professor at Texas Tech University), the first movement of the Concerto for Vibraphone and Percussion Ensemble received its premiere in November 2009 at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in Indianapolis by Lisa Rogers and the Brazoswood High School Percussion Ensemble, directed by Eric Harper. It will be premiered in its entirety at the International Society for Music Education (ISME) Conference in Beijing, China in August 2010 by the Texas Tech University Percussion Ensemble, directed by Allan Shin, with Dr. Lisa Rogers as the vibraphone soloist.
One of my favorite sources of inspiration for my compositions is poetry -- especially that of Pablo Neruda. It's so passionate and filled with vivid imagery that it's just a blast to try and portray his words with music. I knew from the outset that Lisa Rogers (the commissioning party) wanted a 2-movement concerto, so I decided to try and find two poems with opposing themes and stumbled upon Neruda's collection "Ode to Opposites." I chose "Ode to Nighttime" and "Ode to Enchanted Light" which pit night against day.
For the first movement, Night's Song, I tried to depict this mysterious, starry night that gradually turns dark and rainy. The phrases that really spoke to me and shaped the music were "behind daylight," "you thrash around the sky," "you run wild over the savage flow of rivers," and rain and darkness are the blade of a singing sword while stars, or jasmine petals, gaze from blackened heights." I love how Neruda describes daylight as being born nighttime, so I decided to make the movements attacca so that the second movement, Enchanted Light, bursts forth out of the first movement.
The second movement is much more sparkly and bright, depicting the "light dropping from the top of the sky." The "cicada sending its sawing song high into the empty air" even makes an appearance when the ensemble vibraphone player places pennies on the bars and then bows those bars with optional help from a sizzle cymbal. Motives and themes from the first movement return in several spots throughout the second movement helping to unify the work. The soloist gets a workout as well in the tour-de-force second movement, unlike the much more introspective first movement.
Percussionist, composer, & educator Nathan Daughtrey (b. 1975) is a musical chameleon who uses his wide-ranging talents to adapt comfortably to a variety of environments. As a performing artist and clinician for Yamaha percussion, Vic Firth sticks and mallets, and Zildjian cymbals, he has performed and given masterclasses and clinics throughout the United States and across three continents. Nathan has recorded two solo marimba albums to date -- "Spiral Passages" and "The Yuletide Marimba" -- as well as several chamber music albums, including a recent collaboration with euphoniumist Brian Meixner titled "Praxis."
With over 60 publications for percussion ensemble, concert band, orchestra, chamber ensembles, and soloists as well as an ever-growing number of commissions, Nathan balances his performing with composing, and to great acclaim. He is the only composer in the history of the Percussive Arts Society International Composition Contest to procure both 2nd and 3rd place in the same year with his percussion ensemble works "Limerick Daydreams" and "Adaptation," respectively. Nathan's compositions appear regularly on performances at PASIC, the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, the Bands of America National Percussion Festival, and in concert halls and other performance venues around the world. His works have also been recorded on several albums by respected performers, including the FSU Percussion Ensemble, the Showa Wind Symphony conducted by Ray Cramer, the RoseWind Duo, and Mississippi State University. Additionally, three of his compositions for wind ensemble have been featured in three volumes of "Teaching Music Through Performance in Band."
As an educator, Nathan served as a Visiting Lecturer of Percussion for three years at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he taught applied percussion and conducted the Percussion Ensemble. He also served as a sabbatical replacement at the University of Oklahoma, where he taught undergraduate and graduate percussion students and conducted the world-renowned OU Percussion Orchestra. Dr. Daughtrey is currently a Visiting Lecturer of Percussion and Music Composition at High Point University (NC), where he teaches applied lessons, directs the percussion ensemble and works in collaboration with the School of Communication and Department of Dance.