Thursday, June 15, 2017

Kevin Puts and the Marimba

Last time we looked at David Lang, a modern-day composer that Cincinnati audiences may be familiar with due to his CSO commission in 2014. But what about Kevin Puts? Does that name sound familiar? If you saw the Cincinnati Opera’s performance of the new opera Silent Night in 2014 then you know Kevin Puts, who just so happened to win the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for this work!

Kevin Puts is known around the world as a talented composer. His operas, symphonies, and concertos have been performed by leading ensembles including the New York Philharmonic and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, as well as top-tier soloists including Yo-Yo Ma and Evelyn Glennie. He received his education from the Eastman School of Music and Yale and currently teaches composition at the Peabody Institute and holds the Director position at the Minnesota Orchestra’s Composer’s Institute.

Today, let’s look at a fun work Puts wrote out of his love for Mozart piano concertos. Surprisingly, it’s not a piano concerto! It’s his Marimba Concerto, which is written so that the soloist interacts with the orchestra in a similar manner as what we find in Mozart’s piano concertos. Puts also used Mozart’s favored three-movement structure. One interesting fact about this piece is that each movement contains a subtitle that Puts took from his aunt’s poetry (Fleda Brown).

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