Ottmer, Jacob- Summer Fever, for vibraphone and cello

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Summer Fever, for vibraphone and cello, includes a score and part. 

Program Notes: 

Summer Fever is a piece for vibraphone and cello in which the two instruments come together in creating one larger picture utilizing both rhythmic and melodic motives. The first two movements provide the foundation for each set of motives to build upon in the third movement. As the third movement unfolds, Henry Mancini’s “Moon River” begins to unravel as the prior themes and motives start to emerge from within, revealing the true nature of the famous tune. After coming to an abrupt halt, two pieces are left; one that is reconciled and one that is not. 

Review from Percussive Notes (2023):

As stated by the composer in the performance notes, “The goal of this piece was to create a true connection between performers as the multiple lines within the music intersect.” Jacob Ottmer uses register, bowing, and aleatoric moments, among other elements, to bring this vision to fruition. This “true connection” is evident in all three movements.

The first movement, “Cursory Adoration,” begins with back-and-forth interplay between the two performers. In the first page of the score, the vibraphone part contains bowing and chords with four mallets, while the cello part includes arco and pizzicato. This almost immediately opens up the listener to a variety of sounds, giving the impression that the performers are mimicking each other. This movement also features an aleatoric section in which the performers respond to each other’s notes.

“Anxietal Apparitions,” the second movement, begins and ends with a section marked “freely.” One performer sustains or tremolos while the other plays a moving line. The middle section of this movement is “in tempo.” This stricter rhythmic structure helps to set it apart from its bookends.

The third movement, “Vapid Intimacy,” is an unraveling of “Moon River” by Henry Mancini. As the tune cycles time and again, the music gets more melodically, harmonically, and rhythmically complex. After a climax marked “as ugly as possible,” the piece winds down into a quiet ending.

I recommend this piece for any university or professional recital. The aleatoric moments allow for plenty of experimentation and expression and both parts have their virtuosic moments.

—Justin Bunting

Performance Notes:

The goal of this piece was to create a true connection between performers as the multiple lines within the music intersect and demand a greater command of the musical experience in order for the music to make any coherent sense at all. This music is meant to move – to push and pull. As such, the performers need to take care to listen to each sound the other is making in order to stitch the parts together. This is especially applicable in the aleatoric section of movement 1 and the majority of movement 2, and the penultimate moments of movement 3. 


Vibes - Pedal markings are intentionally less specific in certain areas because the player should be listening and adjusting per the space they are in and how the cellist is phrasing certain passages. The given pedal markings are but a light recommendation (at best).

Movement 1: 

Vibes – the performer should sustain with a continuous bow for as long as possible before moving to the next pitch. For the aleatoric box notation, this performer will NOT play the pitches in parentheses. These pitches are what the cello is sounding. The two hands (one per stave) should be independent of one another and should not necessarily line up every bow stroke – neither should they continuously alternate one then the other.  

Cello – In the aleatoric box notation section, this performer WILL ONLY play the parenthetical notes. The non-parenthetical notes are for reference to the vibraphone only. 

Movement 2: 

Vibes – Stem-less noteheads are largely gestural. Stem-less noteheads that are filled in (black) are not necessarily quarter notes, but open noteheads (like a half note) should be longer than a filled in notehead. 

Cello – Stem-less noteheads are largely gestural.

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