composer

Roukens, Joey

Joey Roukens was born in Schiedam, the Netherlands, in 1982. 
Education: Roukens studied composition at the Rotterdam Conservatory and psychology at Leiden University. Roukens also studied piano privately with Ton Hartsuiker. Compositions: ...

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composition

Boundless (Homage to L.B.) : for string orchestra, harp, keyboards and percussion / Joey Roukens

Publisher's number: 15391
Genre: Orchestra
Subgenre: Large ensemble (12 or more players)
Instruments: timp 5perc hp synth/cel str
Duration: 15'00"
Year of composition: 2016
Status: fully digitized (real-time delivery)

Description:
Boundless was commissioned by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, who requested a homage to Leonard Bernstein (anticipating the centennial of the great composer/conductor’s birth) that could be programmed alongside L.B.’s Serenade for solo violin, strings, harp and percussion. As I have always admired L.B. ever since I watched the film West Side Story when I was 9 or so, I agreed to write this piece.
The instrumentation is basically the same as that of the Serenade, but without the solo violin and with the addition of a keyboard player on celesta and synthesizer. The work is a kind of mini-symphony in three short movements (fast, slow, fast) played attacca (i.e., without breaks). It directly references material from two little piano pieces by L.B.: Nos. 5 and 13 from his last (1988) cycle of Anniversaries - little piano pieces L.B. wrote throughout his life and which he would often pick up and expand in other, larger works, most notably in his Serenade. In my piece, however, the music often moves quite far from the source material, so that most of the time, it is no longer recognizable.
The first movement (Manically) is ceaselessly energetic, exuberant and explosive and should be performed with an over-the-top kind of energy, almost as if the music sounds “too fast”at times. The second movement (Glacially) is a small Adagio, chorale-like, with slowly morphing harmonies; much of its material is derived from No. 13, a slow, little waltz, even though the waltz cannot be recognized until the end of the movement, when it appears as a fleeting reminiscence, sounding as if played by a little music box. The last movement (Propulsively) is fast and motoric, with pulsating, syncopated rhythms which should be performed as tightly as possible. There are strong hints of popular music (rock, techno, jazz) in this movement - one thing I’ve always admired about Bernstein’s music is the naturalness with which he incorporated elements of popular music in his concert works - and it eventually builds up to a relentless, frenzied ending.
Leonard Bernstein was a man of boundless energy and boundless musical interests. I have tried to write a piece which captures some of that “boundlessness” (in a good way, I hope…).
Joey Roukens

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