This weekend (June 7-8), American composer and iconoclast Harry Partch’s (1901-1974) custom-designed instruments return to REDCAT. Performed by Partch—the Grammy-nominated ensemble founded by John Schneider that is devoted to the works of the microtonal music pioneer—the program centers around pieces for Partch’s massive Marimba Eroica.
Weighing in at 847 pounds and measuring eight feet in length, the Eroica generates pitches even lower than the bass marimba, with the lowest note at approximately an F below the lowest A on a piano. The instrument, which was designed in 1951, is played with comically oversized heavy padded mallets and with hands in padded gloves.
Partch wrote, “In the right room acoustically, the Eroica is felt through the feet, against the belly, and, if one sits on the floor, it ripples through [one’s] bottom. It is very difficult to put on tape, and especially, on records, with any fidelity.” Experience this rippling, earth-shaking concert event that includes the works Plectra and Percussion Dances and Dance Pantomime (King Oedipus).
Play an interactive version of the Marimba Eroica at the American Mavericks website and see photos and read about how the instrument is built at Microfest.org.