Polaris – CD

April 20, 2020 8:15 am

Polaris was my first solo marimba recording released in 1996!   This album was the result of an East Carolina University grant to feature composers from North Carolina.    It was wonderful to work with my friends there to create this disc, especially my percussion brother-in-arms, Christopher Deane.  Chris not only wrote two incredible works on this album, he also was present for most of the recording process and performed with me on Stubernic.

One important fact, there are no digital effects on this recording.   What you hear is the instrument and the room.  Many thanks to recording engineer Dwight Robinett for his uncanny ability to make this simple process sound beautiful!


POLARIS (1995) Mark Ford

Polaris is a one movement solo based on a rhythmic theme in 7/8 meter.  Set in a modified rondo form, two separate ostinatos help unify the music while themes from the opening chorale and allegro sections are developed.  As the North Star has served as a navigation reference for centuries, Polaris reflects the inner part of each of us that guides our decisions and shapes our identity. MF

THREE SHELLS (1992) Christopher Deane

Three Shells creates an abstract narrative between three basic motivic materials.  An echo-like motive based on a tone row gives a sustaining quality to the marimba while the second element emerges as a traditional melody accompaniment figure.  The third element is an interruptive motive based on the original row.  Mark Ford performed the premier of Three Shells in 1993 and the work is dedicated to my sister Leslie, who’s pen and ink drawing provided me with the title. CD


I believe that the Suites for solo ‘cello by Johann Sebastian Bach are among the finest works of chamber music.  Some of my more sublime musical experiences have been performances of transcriptions of these magnificent works.  It was my hope in composing my Suite for Marimba for Mark Ford not only to follow Bach’s forms and use of tonality, but also my attempt to capture the inner joy that results in the performances of his music.  MT


Five Songs, the winning composition in the 1994 Percussive Arts Society Composition Contest, is based on poems by Emily Dickinson.  Although there is no single theme, each poem deals with life, death and nature, which are common subjects in Ms. Dickinson’s poetry.  Movements II and IV are lighter and somewhat on the whimsical side while I, III and V are more thoughtful and reflective.  The dynamics are often rather soft, reflecting the poems’ collective sense of tranquility.  LG

THE PROCESS OF INVENTION (1995) Christopher Deane

The Process of Invention was written specifically for Mark Ford as a contrasting piece to Three Shells.  The form is transparent in its use of repetition.  Utilizing the concept of “one thing leads to another,” each left hand bass line is connected by shared beginnings and endings in juxtaposition with contrapuntal lines in the right hand.  Augmentation and diminution of one musical line, while keeping it’s counter line constant, serves as a developmental device.  CD

STUBERNIC (1988) Mark Ford

Stubernic (stew-bur-nick) is a marimba trio performed on one marimba, similar to the marimba performance practices in Latin America. The work is dedicated to Stefan and Mary K. Stuber who inspired me with stories of their humanitarian aid experiences in Nicaragua.  Although Stubernic is not based on Latin American themes, I have attempted to re-create the energy and vitality of the region’s music.  At times in Stubernic, the frame of the instrument is used for percussive effects.  Christopher Deane, who plays on the low end of the marimba, is required to play on the instrument’s fiberboard end piece.  John Hanks, performing on the high end, has to gently tap rhythms on the front metal resonators.  Generally, the outside parts accompany the middle player (Ford) who performs a short cadenza. MF