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Dynasty (Oliverio)

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James Oliverio

James Oliverio

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Subtitle: Double Timpani Concerto

General Info

Year: 2011 / 2014
Duration: c. 27:30
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Unknown


1. Impetuous – 3:30
2. Naiveté – 4:30
3. Interlude – 1:50
4. Ancestors Within – 5:20
5. Destiny – 8:35


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Percussion instruments are generally classified as pitched or non-pitched; the timpani are pitched but seldom used melodically, as opposed to the xylophone, marimba and other “mallet” instruments. Yet they represent a principal harmonic underpinning – as well as rhythmic color – for an orchestral work, used for emphasis and drama. When James Oliverio set out to compose a concerto for timpani, one of his goals was to present them as carriers of melody, as well as rhythm.

Composed for Mark and Paul Yancich, principal timpanists for the Atlanta and Cleveland symphony orchestras respectively (known as the Brothers Yancich), Dynasty highlights the timpani’s diverse personalities – rhythmic, melodic and virtuosic. Oliverio writes: “My overreaching esthetic consideration was to evoke and honor the rich legacy of the Brothers and their ancestors, whose love and passion for music continues on across multiple generations. The musical metaphor for DYNASTY was conceived and developed on several levels: the personal, the ancestral, the political and…as a professional analogy as well.”

The five movements of the Concerto roughly follow the trajectory of the brothers’ careers from impetuous youthful optimism and naïveté through a time of transition, professional success and fulfillment, and their contribution to their family legacy and its continuity (Their father, Milan Yancich, taught horn for 70 years at the Eastman School of Music.)

The duo performs on eleven timpani of different sizes, whose pitch can be altered by means of foot pedals. The first movement, Impetuous, sets up a harmonic counterpoint that recurs in various iterations and transformations throughout the entire work. It includes the first of several interchanges between the brothers, emphasizing rhythm.

The second movement, Naïvité, features an aspect of the timpani seldom encountered: a lyrical melodic line shared by the brothers in such a way that it sounds like a single player. The following Interlude is the first of three cadenzas, this one demonstrating a single performer playing two separate musical lines and glissandi involving the use of the pedals to alter the instruments’ pitch.

Ancestors Within nostalgically honors the brothers’ musical forebears with melodic passages. It includes important solos for horn and a middle section in which two harps accompany the soloists. Unsurprisingly, the finale, Destiny, pulls out all the stops with virtuosic cross-rhythmic interchanges and two improvised cadenzas. It is a new creative voice for these once merely accompanying instruments.

- Program Note by Ashville Symphony for orchestral version

Commercial Discography

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by this Composer