As the premiere of his Marimba Concerto draws near, composer Daniel Rojas reflects on the excitement of the occasion. He writes:
“A world premiere of any orchestral work is a rare occasion. I often compare it to the launch of a new novel or the opening night of a new movie or play. It conjures up images of people dressing up, inviting a special date, booking dinner, getting together with their friends and loved ones and enjoy a fantastic evening out.”
Coincidentally, the work premiers on the weekend of his birthday on 22 June, performed by virtuoso percussionist Claire Edwardes and The Metropolitan Orchestra conducted by Sarah-Grace Williams It is not only the first concerto for marimba that Rojas has written, it is also a rare addition to the canon of works for marimba and orchestra. Rojas admits that Williams is something of a heroine for him, who has extensive experience conducting around the country and overseas. He adds “Claire Edwardes is Australia’s most notable concert percussionist and last year won the APRA award for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Music, a coveted prize that only few ever receive.”
Fans of Rojas will know that his music brims with the energy and dance rhythms of Latin America. His melodies and harmonies shoot off like comets into bursts of improvisation. His performances are joyous and full of fun. Staying seated is almost an injustice to the effervescence of his music.
Rojas has completed his PhD in music and now lectures full-time at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He has been signed up by Cinque Artist Management. He observes “To work with kind, assertive and honest people in this industry is a breath of fresh air.” Recent engagements for Rojas include performing one of his piano concertos with the Sydney University Symphony Orchestra conducted by George Ellis, and several recitals in Sydney and interstate in the coming months.
He offers some valued first-hand insights into his latest work: “This Marimba Concerto features the warm, almost untamed colours of what was originally an African and Latin American instrument that has entered the classical tradition. The rhythms are also all of Latin American origin which I integrate into the classical context. I have composed this piece in three movements, each of which is centred around a particular theme. The first movement, Serpentine, describes the grandeur of the Amazonian rivers; the second, which I have called Ebb is about the dwindling of youth and innocence; the finale, Soirée depicts a joyous musical jam-party, the kind of event my friends and I like to host! Needless to say it ends in a total roar, Rojas style!’
He adds”Writing a work of this size is a HUGE undertaking, months of little sleep, focused concentration and putting aside most of the simple daily pleasures people enjoy. But the result is worth it. To paraphrase Dr Suzuki, “Music makes good citizens, noble human beings.” I believe this to be true and all my inspiration and hard work is in earnest pursuit of this ideal!”