On Feb. 24, 2001, marimba soloist Gifford Howarth—at the time a percussion instructor at Penn State and at Nazareth College, more recently a professor at Bloomsburg University, and all along the nephew of SASO timpanist Harold Howarth—joined then-music director Warren Cohen and the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra in the marimba concertino by prominent American composer Paul Creston (whose son has been know to attend SASO concerts, even when his father’s music is not on the program). Of the work, Tim Secomb writes:
Paul Creston was born in New York to an immigrant family (his original name was Giuseppe Guttoveggio). Without formal training in composition, he embarked on a career as composer in his mid-twenties. Although carefully organized, his works convey an impression of exuberance and spontaneity. They often use complex rhythms, such as phrases of irregular length imposed on a regular underlying meter. Creston wrote several concert pieces featuring unconventional solo instruments, including the saxophone, the accordion and the trombone. The Concertino for Marimba was the first major work written for marimba and orchestra. The first performance was given in 1940, by the 30-member all-female “Orchestrette Classique” in New York City. The two fast movements combine Creston’s characteristic rhythmic style with influences of early ragtime music. In the slow movement, the soloist rapidly strikes notes with four mallets to produce the effect of sustained chords.
The first movement is marked “Vigorous.”
The second movement is designated as “Calm.”
The finale is declared “Lively.”