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Rhythms of Life
miki ( 2006/12/16 )

Rhythms Of Life,

for Marimba Solo with optional strings and percussion, was commissioned by Bogdan B?canu. The main challenge of the piece was to write a solo work that would also function with an optional orchestra. Why this is a challenge, if not a completely novel idea is that you must imagine the concerto literature that we all know and love, and than try to hear it played without the orchestra. This is a major task for the soloist, who must play virtually without rest.

The piece is rhapsodic in nature and contains a dominant theme which serves as the motive basis for the story. This theme goes through ten variations or scenes which represent situations in life that we may all be familiar with:

1. ?Innocence of a Child?
2. ?Dreams of Youth?
3. ?The first Challenge?
4. ?Stormy Years?
5. ?Coming of Age?
6. ?Finding a Direction?
7. ?Then there was Love?
8. ?Illusions of the Mind?
9. ?Cycles of Life?
10. ?Path to Eternity?

The music begins with an introduction which represents the start of life for the individual, the birth of the child. Brooding and mysterious, it is followed by the main theme, which will take us on our journey. Its hymn-like nature, direct and simple represents the call of freedom which will accompany the child throughout all its life cycles.

Even though children may have serious life themes like adults, they still go through the periods of innocence and idealism symbolized by variations 1 and 2. Soon however, the child is confronted with ?The first Challenge? (variation 3), a ?rock-style? variation which represents the energy accompanying such encounters. Then come the ?Stormy Years? (variation 4), which spiral upward on the thematic minor 3rd motive. These years of agitation and trying to break through to adulthood come slowly to a conclusion as the youth realizes that the struggle may be unnecessary.
Like a butterfly emerging from the cocoon, the ?Coming of Age? (variation 5) makes itself apparent. Yet even the butterfly must test its wings. Variation 6 (?Finding a Direction?) is symbolized by the Marimba cadenza, where individuality is found and a new direction taken.

?Then there was Love? (variation 7) represents love in all its qualities of idealism, hope, devotion and desire, for a true love is not without pain ... and even though a summer day may bring storms, still we long for the warming sun to grace our path.
Life might be easy if it dealt only with the above, but someday we are all confronted with doubt or even worse, the ?Illusions of the Mind? (variation 8). If we pass the test, we know that nothing comes easy. In ?The Cycles of Life? (variation 9) we have the struggle to attain our place in this world ? to move forward despite all resistance. The key is trial and error symbolised by the repetitious nature of this variation.

Just when we seem to be the masters of our own fate, we are inevitably confronted with the end, whether that of a loved one or even our own. The last variation, ?Path to Eternity? dawns upon us and the brooding introduction is heard again, for life and death are both intrinsically related to the great mystery of the cosmos.
The main theme, the call of freedom, is also heard again, reminding us of the very purpose of our existence and yet pausing for a moment, it is the theme of love which perseveres undaunted ? that which we remember the most.

And now in the twinkle of an eye on the verge of eternity, we garner strength and move forward to go through that great door ? for in death, as in life, it is the enduring spirit which transcends all.

(John Thrower - Composer)



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