Concerto for Piano & Wind Ensemble
Concerto for Piano & Wind Ensemble
Archer's three-movement concerto for solo piano and wind ensemble features brilliant scoring and gorgeous colors throughout, showcasing the versatility of the instrument. The piece even introduced the cello to the ensemble – a lovely combination not often explored.
Concerto for Piano & Wind Ensemble was commissioned by Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Dr. John Bell, conductor.
It was April 2007, during rehearsals for the premiere of my Symphony No. 3. The head of the consortium and my best friend, Chris Werner, asked in a quiet moment if I knew what my next project would be. I admitted feeling so fatigued it was hard to imagine composing again, but I’ve always wanted to try a piano concerto with wind ensemble. Of course it’s one of those nearly obligatory “composer benchmarks,” like writing a string quartet. Certainly, since I do not play the piano, there is an interesting challenge inherent in approaching the instrument and proving I’m capable of writing for it. Perhaps most important, though, is that the term “piano concerto” virtually always assumes “with orchestra.” I, on the other hand, find that the timbral qualities of the piano meld particularly well with wind instruments and keyboard percussion (such as the marimba and vibraphone), and that its versatility as both a melodic and percussive instrument opens a myriad of colorful possibilities.
Chris suggested I discuss this with my band colleague at SIUE, John Bell. John immediately agreed to a commission, recruited a soloist, and even shouldered the formidable task of assembling a consortium during a major economic recession.
As I began composing the first movement, a strikingly plaintive theme of equal importance to the piano emerged, which could only be for solo cello. In November 2007, Chris and I had observed rehearsals of David Maslanka’s Trombone Concerto, and were both deeply touched by the cello’s voice within the wind ensemble. At the time, I mused on what the combination of cello and euphonium (my own instrument) might sound like, tucking that away for future use. Chris, however, seemed unusually, powerfully affected. He shared with me the soundtrack to the television series Lost shortly after that, which also features the cello and piano, and commented often, emphatically, that the cello is for him the embodiment of loneliness. I realized as I continued working on that first idea for my own concerto that not only would this cello theme be the motivic foundation and the heart of the work, but also a loving acknowledgement of a shared solitude between Chris and me. It was only natural, then, to dedicate the finished concerto to him.
– Kim Archer
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville – John Bell, conductor
Bowling Green State University – Bruce Moss, conductor
California State University-Fullerton – Mitch Fennell, conductor
Central Michigan University – John E. Williamson, conductor
Eastern Kentucky University – Joseph Allison, conductor
Florida State University – Patrick Dunnigan, conductor
Illinois State University – Stephen K. Steele, conductor
Kansas State University – Frank Tracz, conductor
La Crosse Central High School – Christopher Werner, conductor
Tennessee Tech University – Joseph Hermann, conductor
University of Houston – David Bertman, conductor
University of Missouri-Columbia – Tom O'Neal, conductor
University of Nevada-Reno – A. G. MacGrannahan III, conductor
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse – Tammy Fisher, conductor
Vandercook College of Music – Charles T. Menghini, conductor
Grade Level: 5
Listen to Recordings
F Horn 1
F Horn 2
Timpani (4 drums)
Mallets 1 (Crotales, Bells, Chimes)
Mallets 2 (Xylophone, Bells)
Mallets 3 (Vibraphone, Bells, Crash Cymbals)
Mallets 4 (Marimba)
Percussion (Snare Drum, Field Drum, Low Tom, Bass Drum, Small Triangle, Tam-Tam, Suspended Cymbal, Crash Cymbals)