Duration – 20:30
Dances with Percussion (Dedicated to Jean Norman Iadeluca), for Timpani, Drum Set and Orchestra
Dances with Percussion was composed for and is dedicated to timpanist Jean Norman Iaduleca in honour of his 70th birth year and his 47th year performing with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra (HPO). Jean Norman’s great friend and long-term colleague at the HPO, Ernie Porthouse, conceived the idea of commissioning a timpani concerto in his honour. Because they have performed together so often over the years, including 560 duo performances, Jean Norman decided Ernie should be included as a drum set soloist. Ernie successfully approached HPO music director Gemma New and Executive Director Diana Weir with the project, and then approached me. I immediately said yes to this intriguing project. It is quite unusual to combine timpani and drum set as soloists with an orchestra, and I was eager to create a piece that showcased the possibilities of this combination. As well, I was delighted to work with Jean Norman, Ernie, Gemma and the HPO.
Deciding how to approach a concerto for timpani, drum set, and orchestra was challenging. I wanted to allow Jean Norman and Ernie to realize their aspirations for the design and concept of the concerto. I also hoped the work would reflect their love and passion for music, as well as touch on their wonderful sense of humour. Jean Norman wanted the timpani part to focus on melodic playing and musicality within a more classical framework. Ernie wanted the drum set part to include a variety of Latin American and jazz rhythms (including Afro-Cuban jazz elements). Gemma was interested in having the piece complement a program of dance music by Bernstein, Copland and Márquez.
The first movement combines elements of a Baroque era French Overture and a Latin American Danzón. The opening is inspired by typical French Overture rhythms, but then a timpani and drum set cadenza is included. The following fast section starts with a typical French Overture fugato but is based on Latin American Danzón rhythms, which are developed throughout the movement. In the middle of this fast section, the music also includes an Afro-Cuban Montuno, a repetitive rhythmic figure played by the piano.
The second movement is a fantasy based on a Baroque era Sarabande dance rhythm. The music begins with a contemplative mood before the timpani enters with a stately and sensitive Sarabande theme. After a series of “classical” variations, the Sarabande theme transforms into a jazz waltz, starting with a solo clarinet followed by a timpani jazz solo. The full orchestra helps to build to the climax, before the original Sarabande theme returns to conclude the movement.
The third movement combines a classical era rondo [ABACA] and a Celtic Jig, with Latin American dance rhythms for extra flavor. The movement starts with the timpani playing a march-like jig theme and progresses to the other soloist playing a traditional Irish bodhrán drum. The piccolo plays a traditional Celtic folksong from Nova Scotia aptly named Drummer Boy. The timpani theme returns before moving into the B section featuring a Celtic folksong from Ireland named the Rakes of Kildare. Latin American elements are mixed in, including the drum set playing Afro-Cuban Abakuá rhythms. The first timpani and Drummer Boy themes return and progress to the C section based on a Scottish folksong called Lannagan’s Ball. The rhythm of this theme is slightly changed to give the music a more Latin American feel. The final A section is varied by speeding up the Drummer Boy theme and to end with upbeat and virtuosic music for the soloists and orchestra.