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A Review Of Emmanuel Sejourne’s Marimba Concerto: History, Analysis And Performance Tips

How to Play the Concerto for Marimba and Strings by Emmanuel Sejourne: A Guide for Marimbists and Conductors

The Concerto for Marimba and Strings by Emmanuel Sejourne is one of the most popular and challenging works for marimba soloist and string orchestra. It was commissioned by Bogdan Bacanu and written in 2005. It originally featured two movements - the first one in a fast and rhythmic style, and the second one in a slow and lyrical style. In 2015, Sejourne added a third movement, which is a lively and playful rondo.

A Review of Emmanuel Sejourne’s Marimba Concerto: History, Analysis and Performance Tips

In this article, we will provide some tips and insights on how to play this concerto, both from the perspective of the marimba soloist and the conductor. We will also share some resources where you can find the sheet music, recordings, and videos of this piece.

The Marimba Soloist

The marimba soloist needs to have a high level of technical skill, musical expression, and endurance to play this concerto. Here are some specific aspects to consider:

  • Instrumentation: The concerto requires a five-octave marimba (C2-C7) with rosewood bars. The soloist also needs four mallets, preferably with medium-hard to hard heads.

  • Mallet selection: The choice of mallets depends on the personal preference of the soloist, but also on the acoustics of the venue and the balance with the orchestra. Generally, it is advisable to use brighter and louder mallets for the first and third movements, and softer and warmer mallets for the second movement.

  • Sticking: The concerto involves many fast passages, arpeggios, scales, and chords that require fluent and efficient sticking. The soloist should practice different sticking patterns and find the ones that work best for them. Some examples of common sticking patterns are: single independent strokes (SI), single alternating strokes (SA), double vertical strokes (DV), double lateral strokes (DL), permutations (P), and Stevens grip (S).

  • Articulation: The articulation of the notes is crucial for conveying the character and mood of each movement. The soloist should pay attention to the dynamics, accents, staccatos, legatos, slurs, glissandos, and other markings in the score. The soloist should also experiment with different angles, heights, and speeds of the mallets to achieve different effects.

  • Expression: The expression of the soloist is what makes this concerto come alive. The soloist should interpret the music with their own personality and emotions, while respecting the composers intentions. The soloist should also communicate with the conductor and the orchestra, using eye contact, body language, and facial expressions.

The Conductor

The conductor needs to have a clear understanding of the structure, style, and nuances of this concerto. Here are some specific aspects to consider:

  • Score study: The conductor should study the score carefully and analyze the form, harmony, melody, rhythm, texture, orchestration, and dynamics of each movement. The conductor should also listen to different recordings and watch different videos of this piece to get a sense of its sound and feel.

  • Rehearsal planning: The conductor should plan the rehearsals efficiently and effectively. The conductor should decide how much time to spend on each movement, section, or passage; what aspects to focus on; what feedback to give; what questions to ask; what suggestions to make; etc. The conductor should also coordinate with the soloist and discuss their expectations, preferences, and ideas.

Tempo: The tempo of each movement is indicated by the composer in beats per minute (BPM). However, these tempi are not absolute and can be adjusted according to the performance situation. The conductor should find a tempo that suits the soloists abilities, the orchestras capabilities, and the audiences expectations. The conductor should also be flexible and responsive to any changes or fluctuations in tempo during 04f6b60f66

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