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Alcobaca Suite

timpani solo
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Composer: Kevin Erickson
Publisher: Innovative Percussion, Inc.
Instrumentation: 5 Timpani

Program Notes:
The inspiration for this piece comes from a tragic love tale dating back to fourteenth century Portugal. Dom Pedro, son of Alfonso IV and heir to the throne, wed the Infanta Constanza of Aragon in 1340 in a politically-arranged marriage. Dom Pedro, however, was taken with Inês de Castro, one of the Infanta’s ladies-in-waiting. The relationship of Pedro and Inês grew as they became lovers, parents, and soul mates. The scandal at the court proved to be too much so the King had Inês banished to Spain. Dom Pedro persisted and had Inês and their children installed in the convent of Santa Clara some fifty miles from Alcobaça. For some ten years, Pedro and Inês maintained their relationship. Alfonso, torn between Pedro’s happiness and political pressure, finally yielded to his advisors and allowed Inês and her children to be brutally murdered on January 7, 1355.

Dom Pedro’s grief was immeasurable. He swore revenge and led a bloody rebellion against his father but was unable to gain victory nor revenge. Dom Pedro yielded, having to accept the pardon of the three assassins as a condition of the surrender. Alfonso died soon after, and the prince ascended to the throne as Pedro I. He had the three assassins extradited and was finally able to have his revenge; the last thing the assassins would see before they died was the beating of their own hearts. Still yearning for his dead Inês, Pedro revealed that he and Inês had been secretly married. He then proceeded to stage the coronation his queen never had.

“Alcobaça Suite” is Kevin Erickson’s third work for solo timpani. This work, scored for five drums, is set in three short movements. The first movement begins with a somber introduction, followed by a lively allegro dominated by sixteenth-note and sixteenth-note-triplet passages. The second movement, “Lament,” is much slower and lyrical. The left hand is assigned a heartbeat-like rhythm, while the right hand plays melodic figures, some of which must be pedaled on one drum. For this movement, the performer must be able to execute several polyrhythmic figures between the left and right hands. The opening of the last movement, “Dom Pedro’s Revenge,” is marked presto with the quarter note = 190. The performer can easily get twisted up with the meter rapidly shifting from 3 to 5 to 7. After a brief winding down, ideas from the fist and second movements are re-worked. An accelerando leads into the final part of the third movement, which is motivically similar to the opening. The action revs up even further, accelerating to quarter note = 226 and coming to a thunderous close. — Scott Herring Percussive Notes, June 2007

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Kevin Erickson Kevin Erickson
J. Frank Dobie High School/Independent Performer/Composer
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