Ruby

For Percussion and Orchestra

2003

25 Minutes

COMMISSIONED BY    |   BBC Proms

PROGRAMME NOTE  |  Ruby forms the final part of a triptych of works written for the percussionist Colin Currie.  The first, Parallel Lines, for percussion and piano, was written in 1999, followed by Snowblind, for percussion and strings, written in 2002.  While the first two works are almost exclusively for tuned percussion, Ruby incorporates an un-tuned kit set-up, but the emphasis is still on the tuned instruments.  In fact, the contrast between the rhythmic and colouristic properties of the un-tuned and the melodic and harmonic possibilities of the tuned is one of the underlying ‘arguments’ of the work.  So, along with the familiar muscular sonorities of the drum kit, Colin has material with which he can engage with the orchestra’s harmonic framework in a lyrical manner.  After all, this is what one might expect from a concerto for any other instrument, so why not for percussion?  One might also expect some theatrical leaping from one instrument set to another and, while there are some quick changes for Colin to make, these are for purely musical reasons and not meant as some hackneyed dramatic effect.

Ruby is in a conventional three-movement form (basically: medium - slow - fast) but one where the three sections form an overall arc shape.  The first two movements have two tempos each, which are incorporated (along with the material) into the third, with the final passage being in the same tempo as the opening.  Almost all the material of the work is derived from the soloist’s two ostinatos and the trumpet figure and string chords from the beginning of the first movement.  There are prominent roles for the first flute, trumpet, piano and double bass, which, along with Colin, form a ‘concerto grosso’ group in the third movement.

The vast majority of my titles are borrowed from other sources and are completely abstract (as is the majority of the music).  Ruby was a joke that stuck, and anybody with a rudimentary grasp of rhyming slang can work it out!  The work is dedicated to Colin Currie.  As a critic once remarked, Colin is ‘a musician first, percussionist second’ and for those of us all too familiar with derogatory ‘drummer’ jokes, this is both high and well deserved praise

KEY PERFORMANCES  | 

World Premiere - BBC Proms 2003

25.07.03

Venue  |  Royal Albert Hall, London, UK

Conductor  |  Martin Alsop

Performers  |  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Colin Currie, Schlagzeug

BBC Young Musician of the Year  2004

02.05.04

Venue  |  Usher Hall, Edinburgh, UK

Conductor  |  Ilan Volkov

Performers  |  BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

 

National Premiere

02.05.04

Venue  |  Dewan Filharmonic Petronas, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Conductor  |  Paul Mann

Performers  |  Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra / Colin Currie, percussion

National Premiere

27.05.04

Finale 12. Eurovisionswettbewerb junger Musiker

Venue  |  Konzertsaal, Luzern, Switzerland

Conductor  |  Christian Arming

Performers  |  Luzerner Sinfonieorchester

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Mvt.I

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Mvt.III

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