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The writing of this concerto, which premiered in 2000, was inspired by the largest commissioning consortium to date in music history—39 orchestras. It was also sparked by interest among timpanists based on the composer's well-known percussion concerto The Glory and the Grandeur and percussion trio Lift-Off. It is visually stimulating due to the unusual variety of mallets and brilliant sticking. Harmonic Rhythm requires 5 drums (4 standard sizes plus a piccolo drum).

A primary feature is the melodic writing for the timpani, which shows the instrument's expressive range extending into areas of surprising lyricism. There is powerful action, too, of course, with jazz and rock influences, leading to a very big ending.

"A drum-powered whirlwind."
The Courier Journal (Louisville KY)

"Leading listeners through a revolving door of sound, Russell Peck's "Concerto for Timpani" proved to be a visceral tour de force ranging from its first soft rumble of thunder to an all-out "Allegro Scherzando" that cries out to be choreographed . . . beautiful arching lines and unexpected lyricism."
Naples Daily News

"Timpani piece is highlight of concert . . . overflows with melodic ideas that give way to one another in kaleidoscopic fashion . . . interesting and compelling music for the soloist . . . equally compelling music for the full orchestra."
The Repository (Canton OH)

"an innovative and exciting musical experience . . . A many faceted amalgam of rich lyricism, modernistic dissonance, jazz, and rock . . . long standing ovation, the bravos, and the whistlers . . . "
The Ridgefield Press

"It's exhilarating to the ears and a source of astonishment to the eyes."
Winston-Salem Journal

"a high-impact kaleidoscope of rhythmic and harmonic colors . . . an astonishing array of moods and effects . . . the timpani will never be the same"
Charleston Post & Courier

"a brilliant work with all the energy, optimism, and brazen romanticism of the 21st century . . . coherent and dramatically satisfying . . .
Evansville Courier & Press

"breathtaking climactic action and rhythmic drama . . . a moving, delightful performance that was as fascinating to watch as to hear"
The Times Union (Jacksonville, FL)

duration: 22'


3(3rd db. picc.)/2+E.h./2+b.cl./2+cbn.   4/3/3/1
2 perc.   piano   strings
solo timpani





Sherwood Mobley performed Harmonic Rhythm as soloist with the South Carolina Philharmonic, Greenville Symphony, Mobile Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony, and played the South American premiere in Caracas, Venezuela.

view YouTube video

piano arrangement


The following is a list of the orchestras that commissioned Harmonic Rhythm:

A special thank you to the late Jim Brown, timpanist with the Savannah Symphony, who first spoke to Russell about writing a timpani concerto. Jim contacted many of his fellow timpani colleagues across the country who conveyed their enthusiasm for the project, and with their orchestras performed the concerto as members of the commissioning consortium. Our thanks to Jim for his inspiration, enthusiasm and musicianship.