How Pat Metheny's Guitar Music Became a Percussion Concerto for the Philadelphia Orchestra

Oct 11, 2017

A classical percussionist takes on the music of jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has the story of a new concerto for vibraphone and marimba, arranged by Christopher Deviney, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal percussionist.

The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast on October 15th at 1 pm features Imaginary Day, Duo Concerto for Vibraphone, Marimba, and Orchestra, based on the music of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, and orchestrated by Chris Deviney. Chris Deviney and She-e Wu are soloists. Bramwell Tovey conducts. Details here.

Radio script: 

[MUSIC: Metheny, In the Heat of the Day]

Susan Lewis: Pat Metheny’s music uses guitars, vocalists, percussion, keyboards, and synthesizers to mimic even more instruments. Percussionist Chris Deviney could hear an orchestra—particularly in three works. Informed by different cultures, from Irish folk to flamenco, are The Awakening, Across the Sky, and The Heat of the Day.

Christopher Deviney: At times, symphonic string sounds, brass, woodwinds...They’re synthesizing sounds I play with every day in the Philadelphia Orchestra.

This is my personal tribute to Pat...Any Pat Metheny fan at the concert will get a kick out of hearing a similar Pat Metheny sound in a piece written for vibraphone and marimba.—Chris Deviney

Pat Metheny

SL:  And so Deviney arranged the music for orchestra. The three Metheny pieces became three movements of a new concerto for vibraphone and marimba. There’s also an instrument new to the orchestra. Deviney demonstrates.

Chris Deviney playing the MalletKAT.

[MUSIC: MalletKAT demonstration]

CD:  So this is the MalletKAT. It’s a MIDI controller in keyboard percussion form and I’m hitting rubber pads that are loosely shaped just like black and white notes on a piano keyboard. But the sound is coming from my laptop computer. You can program it to sound like anything you want it to. In this case, I’m programming it to sound like a signature sound of Metheny's guitar synthesizer.

New sounds, and new sound concepts, and new ideas should always be part of the exposure for a great ensemble that has hundreds of years of repertoire. 

To add new stuff just seems natural to me.

[MUSIC: Metheny, In the Heat of the Day]