performed by Aidan Gold and the Student Symphony Orchestra of USC (audio and video editing by Aidan Gold)

This Percussion Concerto was written as a commission from Bonnie Whiting and the State Symphony Orchestra of Turkmenistan. The orchestra gave me a set of melodies and pieces by Turkmen composers and asked me to turn them into a concerto, so they could feature Bonnie Whiting as part of the American Voices artist exchange program. The piece is based on the following Turkmen melodies or pieces by Turkmen composers:

Symphonic Pictures of Turkmenistan III: Dance of the Girls by Nury Halmammedov, Ruhym tazelendi, bakyp Binyada by Aman Agadzhikov, and Türkmen Tansy by Rejep Rejebow.

The first movement is mostly based on the Halmammedov melody, beginning slowly at first with a graphic-notation cadenza for the soloist, but gradually intensifying into a slow dance as Halmammedov’s melody is displaced metrically and passed between the soloist and the orchestra, culminating in a large climax that crashes down on a low C aggressively, resisting the efforts of the solo strings to climb back up, and subdues the energy before the second movement.

The second movement is a desolate and quiet set of variations on one of Agadzhikov’s melodies. The percussionist moves through many haunting colors, from bowed vibraphone to various metal objects to flower pots to slow guiro strokes to singing into a thunder tube. The muted strings provide a bleak veil over the majority of the movement.

The third movement rises out of the darkness of the second to begin an energetic dance for the xylophone based on Rejebow’s melody. It becomes more and more complex and dramatic, pushing forward until the xylophone explodes into a huge string of fast notes. Before the music can rush to a triumphant conclusion, the strings and winds play the accompaniment to Halmammedov’s melody from the first movement, which, sure enough, crashes into the texture in the brass in a different key. This continues to disrupt and panic the dance until it rises to a dissonant, wild frenzy, speeding up until it cannot continue and collapses in exhaustion.

Specific instrumentation details are on the second page of the score.

For additional information, questions, or parts requests, contact Aidan.