Performed by Brian Nozny

Score available from the composer

Instrumentation: Solo Marimba (5 Octave) with Tuned Metal Pipes

Program Notes:

The focus of Thief is the melding of the natural with the artificial. When this work was originally commissioned by Omar Carmenates, his request was for a piece for solo percussion where ideas of the environment and environmentalism were represented. In more talks with Omar, the subjects of the natural elements we use in percussion (most notably Rosewood used in the making of marimba bars) came up, helping to move me in the direction of writing a piece for solo marimba.

At the same time of the commission, I had the opportunity to perform Paul Lansky’s percussion cantata Threads, a piece that for my part required the use of tuned metal pipes. The sounds of these pipes were so beautiful and unique that I wanted to explore that color in my own compositions. This commission presented the perfect opportunity. By using the man-made metal pipes in tandem with the natural rosewood marimba bars, I was able to create a soundscape that combined natural elements and man-made elements into a single homogenous instrument; something that I feel is one of the core aspects of environmentalism, the co-existence of man-made and natural materials.

Along with these ideas of combining the metal and wood sounds of these instruments, another aspect of the subject of this commission came up: the idea of recycling. My original idea for this project was a piece where all the instruments used involved materials that we as percussionists normally discard: Broken and used drum heads, broken drum sticks and mallets, cracked woodblocks and marimba bars, etc. While thinking about this idea, a thought struck me: What if I took the idea of recycling beyond the use of the instruments alone, and applied the thought to the actual musical material. I have been lucky through the years to build friendships with both Christopher Deane and David Skidmore, two of the other composers involved in this project, and this provided me with the perfect opportunity to run with this idea of recycling musical ideas. I selected a piece from both Chris (his marimba quartet Vespertine Formation) and David (his percussion ensemble piece Whispers), and used main themes from those works as my themes for Thief, hence where the title of the piece comes from. I then proceeded to adjust, fragment, and mask these themes so as to hide their origins as much as possible. My thanks to both Chris and David for their understanding and sense of humor with this, since I never told them about using their materials until just before the premier of the work.

Sample Score Thief Coming Soon

Omar Carmenates and Brian Nozny during Brian’s visit to Furman University