Contemporary marimba virtuoso William Moersch has consistently commissioned the best musicians possible to create works for his instrument. In 1984, Bennett wrote his first work for Moersch, After Syrinx II, based on Debussy’s Syrinx for Flute solo and written. Then in 1988 Richard Rodney Bennett agreed to create an ‘American’ concerto, and so composed this concerto in two movements – I con moto and II con brio – that display the versatility of the instrument. Both movements feature blazing cadenzas by the marimba, but it is in the cadenza in the second movement that the marimba essentially becomes the entire Orchestra in the Orchestra’s dominant 6/8 time signature and leads the piece on to a brilliant ending.
Composer, performer and arranger Richard Rodney Bennett was internationally respected for his serious music and many award-winning film scores (Murder on the Orient Express, Nicholas and Alexandra) as well as his works for children and his religious pieces. In addition, this markedly versatile musician frequently performed as a jazz pianist. On his move to the United States, the two sponsors for his green card (work permit) were Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.