Fragment, written by Tyson j. Davis Composer and performed by Ian David Rosenbaum on marimba, was commissioned by Metropolis Ensemble and makes its World Premiere here as part of the House Music series. Written in 2020, Fragment is Davis’s first piece for marimba, orchestral or solo. It’s part of Davis’s ongoing interest in writing short works that explore the ways music can elicit deep emotional responses.
Davis began working with Metropolis Ensemble after flutist Emi Ferguson performed one of his works for her House Music series video. After that performance, Metropolis commissioned him to write a new solo work. Davis knew he wanted to write this work for marimba to take up a new challenge—he was excited to write a miniature piece for marimba to begin to grasp how to work with it. Rosenbaum has been working with Metropolis for a long time, as both a soloist and a collaborator with artists like violinist Kristen Lee and his quartet, Sandbox Percussion. To put the whole piece together, Davis and Rosenbaum became virtually acquainted, using Zoom to exchange notes, to get to know each other, and to finalize the finished product. They still haven’t met in-person, but this opportunity allowed them to meet when they may not have otherwise. In writing Fragment, Davis hoped to illustrate what he describes as the roller coaster of emotion: Its chaotic twists and turns, its vibrant leaps and bounds. You can hear this fluidity in the drastic dynamic changes and chromatic tonality of the music, which offers a poignant glimpse into Davis’s world in just three minutes. — Vanessa Ague