Sonoran Suite

A marimba quartet inspired by the Sonoran Desert of the Southwestern United States.

William Penn, formerly on the faculty of The Eastman School of Music, heads Arizona University Recordings, LLC ( in Tucson, AZ and has produced CDs and Box Sets for EMI, Warner Music, Universal Music and SONY in Europe which have attained multiple platinum and gold records.

Sonoran Suite was composed while Penn was on the music faculty at The University of Arizona in Tucson in the early 1990s. The piece represents his reflections of the Sonoran Desert of the Southwest.

“Sonoran Suite” by Arizona composer William Penn is for a quartet of marimbists, each with percussion. The piece was composed in 1993, being Penn’s impressions of the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert, which stretches across Arizona, California, and Mexico.

Ten minutes in length, this piece is suitable for recitals and percussion ensemble concerts. Much of the marimba parts involve simple triple rhythms in shifting meters of 12/8, 9/8, and 6/8, with some interlocking and a beautiful adagio rolling section that shifts to 2/2 and 4/4; all of which can be played with two mallets by each marimbist. There are a few tempo changes and areas with duple-against-triple and cross-the-bar phrasing, making this a good intermediate-level piece, particularly if done without a conductor. The variety of the timbres, rhyhtms, dynamics, and energy throughout the piece would make “Sonoran Suite” effective concert programming for a moment of effable variety.

-N. Scott Robinson, Percussive Notes, May 2019



Performance Type

3-5 Players