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The Philadelphia Orchestra Is Playing Pat Metheny This Weekend – And It’s Not A Pops Concert

Mar 28, 2017

PHOTO: CLEM MURRAY - Chris Deviney, 51, principal percussionist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, practices in the percussion room at the Kimmel Center the concerto he created from three pieces by jazz guitarist Pat Metheny.

Pat Metheny's An Imaginary Day is morphing into a not-so-imaginary percussion concerto -- to be performed this week by the Philadelphia Orchestra at its Thursday-through-Saturday concerts.

The much-lauded jazz guitarist will not be on stage at the Kimmel Center. Imaginary Day: Concerto for Vibraphone, Marimba, and Orchestra is actually the brainchild of principal percussionist Chris Deviney, a Metheny admirer who has been eager to bring together the two musical worlds and the listeners who come with them.

"I think those audiences have more in common than they think they do," said Deviney, who built and orchestrated the concerto from three extended cuts ("The Awakening," "Across the Sky," and "The Heat of the Day") from the decorated jazz guitarist's 1997 album.

Listeners familiar with Metheny's sophisticated, rhythm-driven, heavily synthesized textures that freely mix Celtic and Spanish influences may find it hard to imagine where the meeting point will be.

"I'm literally taking the primary voices in the tunes and and shifting them between myself and my partner [marimba player] She-e Wu," Deviney said. "In one section, there's a long, extended piano solo. A pianist can play 10 notes at the same time. I can only play four [with two mallets in each hand]. So I just separated the hands [of the piano solo] into two players."

"Hear that?" he said the other day in the percussion room backstage at the Kimmel Center while listening to one of Metheny's originals, "this is where the brass come in. When I first heard it, it was so orchestral in nature."