In 2017, I became exposed to the music of a Dutch composer by the name of Simeon Ten Holt (1923-2012). His large minimalistic works Canto Ostinato and Incantatie IV were for years in the back of my mind, particularly the slowly shifting ostinato patterns that are very characteristic of these works, when one day a call for scores for a collection of new marimba pieces to be written for Heartland Marimba had come to my attention in early 2021. That call was the very impetus to infuse those musical ideas into a work that could be realized by a trio of marimbas. The resulting work was OSTINATO CORNUCOPIA, a title that is reflective of the fact that the piece is made up of a plethora of ostinati. Similar to Canto Ostinato, this composition is fundamentally based on recurring ostinato patterns with tonal melodies. In addition, the length of this composition is determined by the performers, who are in charge of the structure, which is essentially ternary (ABA) with an extended transition back to the final A section. It is at this transition that the piece climaxes with the integration of 12-tone rows into the harmonic progression before returning to the tonal melodies from which the piece began. From the oscillating Eb-Db minor sonorities that begin the piece to the Eb major sonority that ends it, the performers must use their musical instincts and work together to bring about a compelling performance by listening to each other, remaining coordinated from bar to bar, and creating a compelling sense of musicality based on how they punctuate the piece (i.e., based on the decisions made as a group and individually about issues such as articulations, dynamics, mallet types, etc.). ~ J. W.
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One 5.0-octave marimba, two 4.3-octave marimbas, optional bass line