Gorilla in a Cage

Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra

"Wallace has a genuine dramatic gift  that keeps one watching and listening. " - Tim Page, Washington Post

for Evelyn Glennie, percussion soloist
by the Bochum Symphony
World Premiere
Bochum, Germany February 1997
by Steven Sloane

American Premiere Kennedy Center Washington

National Symphony

April 1999

Leonard Slatkin conducting

French Premiere Salle Pleyel Paris

French Radio Orchestra

November 2000

Leonard Slatkin conducting

New York Premiere Carnegie Hall New York City

National Symphony

October 2001

Leonard Slatkin conducting

25 minutes

Gorilla in a Cage is dedicated to the composer's aunt Edna Freedman who died of ovarian cancer at the time of the work's inception. The title comes from a psychic's remarks about this same aunt two years before her death. She said, ''All I can tell you is I see the image of a gorilla in a cage. She's fighting like mad. She's relentless, but she's not going to make it.'' It is, however, decidedly not a requiem.

The 25 minute work opens with the soloist singing a capella. At the work's end, she ascends a platform to sing as she plays the bass chimes. This use of the voice acts as a bridge to the composer's operas.

Unusual instruments like the Batonka - a two-octave set of tuned PVC tubes played with a foam slapper - are featured alongside more traditional mallet instruments and drums. Throughout, instruments usually associated with melody play drum-like figures, and the drums are used for their melodic possibilities.

This work was born in discussions with conductor Steven Sloane while Wallace was in Germany working on the European premiere of Harvey Milk. Sloane encouraged him to compose for his orchestra and suggested Evelyn as the soloist. Without him, this would not have been possible.




Samples as Audio and Video Files

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Excerpt (Audio, 1:44)