Songs from the Wood —2002

A commission by a consortium of 20 American percussionists in 2002 brought us Maggio’s Songs from the Wood for solo marimba. This is a brilliant solo showcase for advanced players in three movements: I. Crossfade prelude; II. Ballad in rosewood, and a little starlight; III. Pastoral toccata. Maggio explores the different “voices” and colors of which the marimba is capable.

Program Note

This consortium commission was the brain-child of a former theory student of mine, Ralph Sorrentino, and his teacher (and my colleague) Chris Hanning.  The title refers to a mind-set that I entered into while writing and learning about the expressive possibilities of the marimba.  Each of the three contrasting movements treats the marimba primarily as a “vocal” instrument while presenting ideas in song-like forms with melodies that return and evolve.  A short description of each movement follows:

I  crossfade prelude, in which the right and left hand parts wash over each other with opposing coloristic tendencies, slowly and subtly shifting the music to distant locales.

II  ballad in rosewood, and a little starlight, in which the 5 octave span of the marimba is separated into two distinct worlds, where two very different kinds of music are heard: in the depths, a slow smoky ballad, pizzicato basses, celli, perhaps some violas; in the upper reaches, some distant twinkling music of the spheres, or perhaps just a dance-hall mirrored ball, sparkling and spinning quietly in dim light.

III  pastoral toccata, a rhythmic finale, with greater technical challenges, something outdoors, with a dancing energy.

Special thanks to Chris Hanning and Ralph Sorrentino for their guidance and support.

Songs from the Wood was commissioned by

  • Paul Bissell, Del Mar College and Go Fish Music
  • Gary Cook, Director of Percussion Studies, School of Music and Dance, University of Arizona
  • Rich Dart, percussionist/performer
  • Charles Fricker, percussionist
  • Chris Hanning, West Chester University
  • Eugene Koshinski, percussionist
  • Drew Lang, Southern Methodist University
  • Jeannine and Morgan Maddox
  • Linda Maxey, Concert Marimbist
  • Robert McCormick, Professor of Music, University of South Florida
  • Shawn Michalek
  • William Moersch, University of Illinois
  • New Music Marimba
  • Michael Rosen, Oberlin Conservatory of Music
  • Ralph Sorrentino
  • Michael Udow
  • Douglas Wm. Walter
  • Matthew Witten, faculty, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ.
  • Nancy Zeltsman, The Boston Conservatory, Berklee College of Music, Zeltsman Marimba Festival
  • Alan Zimmerman


I. Crossfade prelude

II. Ballad in rosewood, and a little starlight

III. Pastoral toccata