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La Cathedrale engloutie

percussion ensemble
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Composer: Claude Debussy (arr. Gene Fambrough)
Publisher: Innovative Percussion
Instrumentation: Bells, Crotales, chimes, 2 vibraphones, 4 marimba (3 - four octave, 1 - five octave), timpani, piano, mark tree, tam-tam, bass drum, engergy chime, sm & med triangles, sizzle cymbal, 4-suspended cymbals, crash cymbal, wind gong, finger cymbals

Program Notes:
This piece is based on an ancient Breton myth in which a cathedral, submerged underwater off the coast of the Island of Ys, rises up from the sea on clear mornings when the water is transparent. Sounds can be heard of priests chanting, bells chiming, and the organ playing, from across the sea until its eventual return underwater.

This arrangement intends to expand on the original piano music through the use of metallic percussion instruments and the implements being used to strike them. Of note - sizzle cymbal and suspended cymbal played with brushes at measure 7, chime rolled with soft yarn mallet along with bowed vibes and crotale at measure 68, and all metal keyboards playing with soft mallets at measure 76. Marimbas should strive for a smooth, organ-like texture in all rolled sections.

"Inspired by the Debussy masterpiece, Gene Fambrough’s arrangement of “The Sunken Cathedral” for large percussion ensemble captures the ambience of this impressionistic composition. Fambrough’s utilization of piano with the keyboard percussionists (particularly the vibraphones) permits the original timbral density not to be lost within this percussion transcription. Also of particular interest is Fambrough’s scoring for the timpani, bass marimba, and crotales in unified content.

Tasteful mallet selection is a necessity for the marimbas to balance the metallic keyboard instruments, as well as to achieve the “organ-like” sound that Fambrough states he desires from the marimba choir. Both from a stylistic challenge (of interpreting an impressionistic work) as well as from the overall inherent ensemble balance issues, this percussion ensemble is deceptively more difficult than it first appears. Because it requires 13 players (including the pianist), a performance of this arrangement would be most appropriate for the mature undergraduate university ensemble." - Jim Lambert  Percussive Notes, July 2014

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Gene Fambrough Gene Fambrough
University of Alabama-Birmingham
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