The tale of Stubernic Fantasy is interesting and extensive. Mark Ford is an American classical percussionist (drummer) who is a professor at the University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton, near Dallas. While he is known for his marimba performances, he also likes to compose other music. In fact, his percussion chamber compositions are some of the most often performed works of our time. Ford’s music has been performed on every continent and on many recordings. But there was something missing…..At that time Mark had never written a concerto for orchestra or wind ensemble. This concerto idea began with an urging from Eugene Corporon, a world famous conductor of wind ensembles at UNT. Eugene heard some of Ford’s percussion music and he told Ford, “Now write me a wind ensemble work like that!” And the idea grew…
So Ford decided to write a marimba concerto based on two of his most famous works, Stubernic and Afta-Stuba! Both of these works feature three players on one marimba (a large beautiful percussion keyboard instrument with rosewood bars) and these works are connected by similar themes. In 1987 Ford’s friend, Stefan Stuber spent a year in Nicaragua doing humanitarian work. Ford was impressed with his friend’s devotion to helping others so he decided to write and dedicate a work to him. The title reflects Stefan’s last name, Stuber and “Nic” for Nicaragua resulting in “Stubernic” (pronounced stew-ber-nick). Ford states, “The music for Stubernic reflects the passion and excitement of the music of Latin America without borrowing any traditional themes or rhythms.” The work requires the three players to navigate all over the instrument even playing the instrument’s frame. It is a powerful, driving work that has a fiery ending.
Stubernic proved to be immensely popular and it has been performed throughout the world as well as on TV and radio. So in 2000 Ford composed a follow-up work to Stubernic entitled Afta-Stuba! This is another non-word that implies “After Stubernic.” Again written for three players on one marimba, Afta-Stuba also raced to the top of the percussion charts.
So in 2012 Ford returned to these works as the foundation for a new marimba concerto, Stubernic Fantasy. The resulting music is a journey that reaches audience members and pulls them into the rich tones and driving rhythms of the marimba combined with the wind ensemble (or orchestra). The concerto is a visual showcase as well as a musical experience with the players moving all over the marimba sometimes in humorous manners. The power of the wind ensemble compliments the original music showing the passion and potential of the marimba.
Regarding the music, this concerto is available in both orchestral and wind ensemble versions. I tried to leave the original
marimba parts untouched but there are a few isolated moments where minor changes were necessary. Mark Ford