Medal of Honor
Composer: Gene Fambrough
Publisher: Innovative Percussion, Inc.
Instrumentation: Marimba (5 octave)
Medal of Honor was composed for and is dedicated to all war veterans. As the son of a Korean War veteran, certain things have come to move and inspire me lately, among them a recent visit to our nations capitol. This was my first opportunity to view the Korean War Memorial, and I found particular interest in the area known as the Pool of Remembrance. Additionally, I have always been awed and inspired by the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. I had been working on fragments of this work and found the needed inspiration to tie them together within this framework of ideas. The Prelude presents a haunting, ominous mood through the use of non-traditional harmonic motion and open fifth structures. Remembrance presents the key of B-flat minor, developed throughout the remainder of the work and explored more traditionally within …of the Unknown. Although still in minor tonality, Celebration creates a joyous interpretation of the previous themes and a brief variation in major, concluding with a short Postlude. The five sections are played without pause.
Gene Fambrough dedicates this piece to all war veterans and found his inspiration for “Medal of Honor” from monuments in the Washington D.C. area. This solo requires a five octave marimba and lasts approximately 13 minutes. According to Fambrough’s program notes: “The ‘Prelude’ presents a haunting, ominous mood through the use of non-traditional harmonic motion and open fifth structures. ‘Remembrance’ presents the key of B-flat minor, developed throughout the remainder of the work and explored more traditionally within ‘…of the Unknown.’ Although still in minor tonality, ‘Celebration’ creates a joyous interpretation of the previous themes and a brief variation in major, concluding with a short ‘Postlude.’ The five sections are played without pause.” This piece lays well on the marimba and should be very pleasing to performers and audiences. The contrast of the open fifths in the opening and tighter intervals in “Remembrance” help lead the piece into “…of the Unknown.” This section reaffirms the primary melody stated over a slow quarter-note ostinato. This ostinato is continued with a sextuplet variation overlay and the melody singing through the texture. As the intensity increases, the intervals get larger and reach a peak at the “Celebration” with the use of octaves in both hands, a syncopated melody in the right hand, and permutations in the left. The piece dies away with flourishing sixteenth notes up and down the keyboard that outline the previous harmonic motion. The ending comes to a gentle close using material of “Remembrance.” This piece would be well worth the effort for junior, senior or graduate recitals. Difficulties include the length, high demand of octave intervals, one-handed rolls in both hands, and overall depth of musical maturity needed to express the desired emotions. - Brian Zator Percussive Notes, April 2006