Gorilla in a Cage - Chamber Version

for two Percussion and two Pianos

World Premiere April 1999
Montreal Conservatory, Canada

American Premiere March 2000
Princeton Atelier, Princeton University
Toni Morrison, Director

Adapted from the Concerto
composed for Evelyn Glennie

Evelyn Glennie, percussion solo

Jonathan Hass, percussion

Philip Smith, piano

Kathy Supové, piano

25 minutes

Gorilla in a Cage is dedicated to the composer's aunt Edna Freedman who died of ovarian cancer at the time of the work's inception.

The title comes from a psychic's remarks about the same aunt two years before her death. She said, ''All I see is the image of a gorilla in a cage. She's fighting like mad. She's relentless as hell. She's not going to make it.'' It is, however, decidedly not a requiem.

The 25 minute work opens with the soloist singing a capella. At the work's end, she ascends a platform to sing as she plays the bass chimes. This use of the voice acts as a bridge to the composer's operas. Unusual instruments like the Batonka - a two-octave set of tuned PVC tubes played with a foam slapper - are featured alongside more traditional mallet instruments and drums. Throughout, instruments usually associated with melody play drum-like figures, and the drums are used for their melodic possibilities.

While the soloist's part remains largely unchanged, the orchestra is replaced by two pianos and one percussionist. What was a virtuosic concerto now becomes a true ensemble work. What's lost in instrumental color and heft is made up for in relentless singularity.