Fort Worth — Jennifer Higdon, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, will be back in Fort Worth this weekend for a performance of her Percussion Concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony. Percussionist Colin Currie will perform her Grammy-winning percussion extravaganza.
“It is like an Olympic event for the percussionist,” she says. “Part of the fun is watching him run across the stage and back because of the large array of instruments and drums.”
Higdon wrote the piece for Currie and he has played it frequently with many different orchestras.
“People seem to get a kick out of it,” Higdon says. “It is an unusual and energetic piece. If you like rock ’n’ roll, you will like this concerto.”
There have been some percussion concerti in the past, but it is certainly unusual. That is not to say that there aren’t some fine ones, especially written recently. Joseph Schwantner wrote one for the deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie that took the musical world by a storm. Other composers have also written such concerti, such as Steven Stucky and Kevin Puts. Most of these are the result of the tireless efforts of percussionists such as Glennie and Currie to expand the repertoire.
“My concerto uses the full battery of instruments,” Higdon says. “In fact, it even uses the percussionists in the orchestra along with the soloist. There are places where there is a dialogue between them.”
All of this adds to the fun of such a piece. Just seeing the display of instruments across the stage is a visual treat. But when Currie starts to dash around to play them, audiences are both thrilled and amused at the same time.
The program also contains major audience favorites: Rachmaninoff’s massive and tuneful Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 27, and Aaron Copland’s percussion-heavy Fanfare for the Common Man. Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducts.