Arena - Percussion Concerto No. 1
Composer: Tobias Broström
Instrument: Multi Percussion and Orchestra
Duration: 25-27 min.
Written in 2004 with an inner eye on the percussion soloist and Swedish Soloist Prize winner Johan Bridger, to whom the piece was dedicated and who eventually gave its original première during a concert with Malmö Symphony Orchestra and conductor Christoph König on 6 May 2004.
The concerto comprises two movements, each of which is divided up into clerarly distinct sections. Broström uses a large array of percussion instruments placed in three separate stations, and it is when the soloist moves from one station to the other that the image is evoked of the arena that has lent the work its name. In that each station possesses its own arrangement of instruments, the different sections of the concerto have their own unique sound.
The first movement opens as a burst of extreme violence, with the soloist`s percussion rig placed at the back, raised between the orchestral percussion section and the timpani. The thematic material is thus presented and the movement gradually comes to an end stage-front in the second station, which includes a waterphone, a brass instrument comprising rods of different lengths that are played with a bow.
A lengthy section of the second movement`s opening is dominated by the third station`s marimba (which is placed on the other side of the podium`s front), played with great virtuosity before the soloist returns to the percussion combo of the first station, ushered there by additional percussionists in an explosion of pyrotechnics. The solo percussionist emerges from the orchestra`s percussion section to eventually take over and launch into the solo cadence.
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Multi Percussion/Marimba and Symphony Orchestra
2 Flutes, Flute II doubling Piccolo Flute
2 Clarinets in Bb, Clarinet II doubling Bass Clarinet
2 Bassoons, Bassoon II doubling Contra Bassoon
4 Horn in F
3 Trumpets in C
Other YouTube Performances:
Dario Solis Landa with Orquesta Filarmonica Contemporanea
About the composer +
Tobias Broström was born in 1978 in Helsingborg, Sweden. Following four years of percussion studies at the Malmö Academy of Music, he embarked on the pursuit of a Master’s degree in composition, studying with the Swedish composer Rolf Martinsson and the Italian composer Luca Francesconi.
Broström has composed chamber opera and various chamber music, but during the last years he has mainly focused on orchestral writing in works such as La Danse, Transit Underground, Crimson Skies, Crimson Seas, Kaléidoscope, Violin Concerto, Arena – Percussion Concerto No. 1, Piano Concerto – Belle Epoque, Samsara, Cello Concerto and Lucernaris – Concerto for Trumpet, Live Electronics & Orchestra, which was composed for Håkan Hardenberger. Numerous soloists, conductors, ensembles and orchestras, including, Robin Ticciati, Michael Sanderling, John Storgårds, Anna Larsson, Karen Gomyo, Thomas Søndergård, Andrew Manze, Dima Slobodeniouk, Johannes Gustavsson, Per Tengstrand, Colin Currie, Mats Rondin, Tõnu Kaljuste, Simon Preston, Johan Bridger, Hugo Ticciati, Jaime Martín, BBC Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Dresdner Philharmonie, BBC Philharmonic, Komische Oper Berlin, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Estonian National Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Wales, Gävle SO, Helsingborg SO, Trondheim SO, Malmö SO, Sinfonieorchester St. Gallen, Vogtland Philharmonie, Oviedo SO, NorrlandsOperans SO, Aurora Chamber Orchestra, Brooklyn Rider, Musica Vitae, Third Coast Percussion Quartet, Malleus Incus, Essens:1 and Gageego have performed his works. Tobias’ music have been performed throughout Europe, the USA and Asia.
Between 2006 – 2009 Tobias was Composer-in-Residence with the Gävle Symphony Orchestra under principal conductor Robin Ticciati, resulting in two new orchestral works each year. Two of these, Crimson Seas & Lucernaris were selected by Swedish Radio to represent Sweden in the European Broadcasting Union’s International Rostrum of Composers in 2007 & 2009. In autumn 2008 his Arena – Solo Version was picked out to be performed at the 52nd International Festival of Contemporary Music at the Venice Biennale and his orchestral piece Transit Underground was nominated for best orchestral piece of the year by Swedish Music Publishers’ Association. In 2010 Lucernaris was nominated for best orchestral piece and in 2012 La Danse was nominated.
Review (Percussive Notes, September (61) 2012)
Written in 2003–04 and published in 2008, this multiple-percussion concerto has the soloist performing on a large array of percussion instruments from three stations around the stage (two in front, one in the back). According to the composer, the soloist’s movement from station to station evokes the image of the percussionist in a gladiator “arena,” which inspires the title of the work. The work is Broström’s first orchestral work and was written for Swedish Soloist Prize winner Johann Bridger, to whom the piece was dedicated. Bridger gave its premiere with the Malmö Symphony in 2004.
Comprising two movements, each divided into distinct sections, the solo part is very technically demanding, yet idiomatic given the composer’s background in percussion performance. The multiple percussion parts require fast movement over the instruments, as well as linear drumset techniques (i.e., fast rhythms between the hands and feet). In addition, a high level of four-mallet marimba proficiency is required, making this piece a unique hybrid. It is one of the few concerti that demands virtuosity on both multiple percussion (including feet/hand techniques) and marimba in the same work. Although the composer makes suggestions for the instrument station placements on stage (including the main station on a riser in the back), there have been performances with different configurations (percussion stations in front) that do not diminish the musical effect.
The piece contains fast rhythmic flourishes and explosive volume at times, but also has softer, less intense sections. The construction of the composition is excellent and well paced throughout. Broström captured the sound of contemporary marimba and multiple percussion solo literature and has convincingly embedded it into the orchestral concerto genre. The orchestral parts are playable by a college ensemble, yet rhythmically complex at times, which will require a good conductor, appropriate score study, and rehearsal time with the ensemble (a piano reduction is also available). I highly recommend this piece to all percussionists who enjoy “total” percussion and are looking for a vehicle to showcase their multiple percussion, drumset, and marimba techniques in one work. (Note: the multiple percussion solo version of this piece was reviewed in the May 2012 issue.)
Front Cover graphics and layout: Tobias Broström
Engraving: Tobias Broström/Johan Svitzer
Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark
Copyright © Edition Svitzer