Gwyneth Walker

Up-Front Concerto

for Hand Drums Solo and Orchestra (1993)

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Read a review of Up-Front Concerto (1991) for hand drums and orchestra by Sarah Cahill, The East Bay Express.

View/download a perusal PDF file of the full score of this orchestral work.


Commissioned by the Women's Philharmonic and dedicated to Johanna Johnson, percussionist and the Women's Philharmonic.

The Up-Front Concerto brings the percussionist, along with an unusual array of hand drums, to the front of the orchestra. The intent is to present the audience with a clear and entertaining view of Congas, Cuica, Rain Stick and Grapes in concert performance.

This music was written especially for the morning Children's Concert Series of the Women's Philharmonic, and was premiered at the Thorne Hill Elementary School (Oakland, California) on March 11, 1993. The first movement, "Rise and Shine", was intended to help the orchestra players overcome the hardship of having to play their instruments at an unusually early hour of the day! The music stars gently, and then picks up in energy as it "awakens."

"About Rain" celebrates the special sounds and sights of a Rain Stick -- an instrument often associated with Shakuhachi playing, but now used in a context simply about the falling of rain. The related sonorities of Maracas and Grapes are interwoven.

The last movement, "Flying Tattoos!", is a homage to our raucous nature -- whether or not we have tattoos! It contains the first notated Cuica-Violin duet in the orchestral repertoire.

Notes by the composer