IKEAn’t Even (2016) was commissioned by Dr. Benjamin Charles for the Florida Atlantic University’s seasonal percussion ensemble concert. A championing advocate for new percussion literature, Ben is to this day one of my favorite performers to collaborate with, and I know that every piece I write for him will be delightfully off-the-wall in just the right ways.
There are two things to know about Ben: He’s a speed demon with two-mallet keyboard technique, and he’s obsessed with IKEA furniture. So when he asked me to write a marimba feature he could play with his percussion studio, I knew immediately what I wanted to write. I decided to paint a picture of the hectic awesomeness of visiting an IKEA for the first time (I was lost in there for two hours on my own first visit).
So… how does one write a piece to be explicitly and obviously about IKEA of all things, aside from a title that’s way too punny for its own good? There were two things that immediately came to mind for me. First, the percussion ensemble needed to incorporate some of its odder-looking utilitarian instruments (like the ratchet, temple blocks, and sizzle cymbal). Second, each player should play an “instrument” that could be bought at an IKEA. Nothing screams furniture construction quite like a power drill solo.
This virtuosic marimba feature is filled with energy and whimsy all at once, making it the perfect tribute to a place as magical as IKEA. Hopefully it captured Ben’s fascination with the place equally as mine.