Principal Percussion Christopher Deviney says performing Imaginary Day, Duo Concerto for Vibraphone, Marimba, and Orchestra, was a bit of a shock. It had taken years to get his idea of arranging the music of jazz guitarist Pat Metheny onto a Philadelphia Orchestra program. Imaginary Day finally had its world premiere Thursday evening, March 30, with repeat performances Friday afternoon and Saturday evening.
Chris’s piece uses three of Metheny’s tunes, expanding the original jazz combo arrangement to include a full orchestra, two pianos, a large collection of percussion instruments, plus the two virtuoso soloists, She-e Wu on marimba, and Deviney himself on vibraphone.
The reaction in Verizon Hall was rapturous … but nobody was happier than Chris. “It was a little surreal, that it finally actually happened. For the longest time I didn’t think it would. It was hard to find the right complement of pieces. Then I had to get a conductor who was fully on board. We found the perfect mix with this particular program, and in this particular conductor!”
Indeed, Deviney’s arrangement went brilliantly with Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs (featuring Principal Clarinet Ricardo Morales in a dazzling solo) and Dvořák’s beloved “New World” Symphony.
Conductor Bramwell Tovey brought his sure touch to the complex musical forces, even stepping off the podium at one point for a turn at the piano.
Deviney says Friday afternoon’s concert felt a little more “normal.” “After the first performance I basically knew how I would react, how I would feel personally. Still, I’m usually not out on the lip of the stage!”
What’s next: another arrangement? “I still literally have some edits to do with this one, tightening loose ends and stuff. But I’ve been really happy with how it turned out this week. It’s a labor of love for sure.”