Groundhog Blues was written following a xylophone seminar in Dayton, Ohio in 2014. The piece is dedicated to percussionist Jeff Luft, who has been a fan of groundhogs since he was a child. Jeff encouraged me to write my first solo marimba composition. The thematic ideas for this piece came from the cute behavior of the small animal, which I had never seen in my home country of Japan. Most Americans know the rules of Groundhog Day (February 2nd), when a groundhog is said to forecast the weather by looking for its shadow.
Groundhog Blues consists of three sections. Please pay attention to all expression markings, which describe the tempo, expressive mood, and tone quality. The piece is my imagination of the animal’s movement. All of the phrasing creates “something” related to a groundhog, who is free to change what it does every day. The syncopated rhythm in the third section (from con moto) should be played accurately.
Inspired by a friend who had a fascination with groundhogs, Yurika Kimura composed this marimba solo with his encouragement, trying to encapsulate the character of the animal, which did not exist in her native Japan. The playful character of the piece can be seen throughout and works well capturing the nature of her inspiration.
Divided into three sections (plus a short introduction and coda), Kimura states that each area “is my imagination of the animal’s movement.” The character of each section is a diverse musical offering, with style indicators such as “whimsically” and “gently” guiding the performer. Phrasing and dynamic indicators are all clearly shown, and program notes also assist players in their interpretation.
Technically, the piece will require some experience with four-mallet technique, but nothing beyond the undergraduate level. Given the character of the piece, accessible nature of the music, and technical demands, this piece would work well for an undergraduate junior or senior recital.
-Brian Nozny, Percussive Notes, July 2019