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Contributions to the Vibraphone: Pamela Z and Robert Honstein

Commissioning new, substantial works honoring the vibraphone’s centennial to usher in the next century of music featuring the instrument


The year 2021 brings the unique opportunity to celebrate the first centennial of the vibraphone, an instrument developed in Indianapolis, IN by the Leedy Manufacturing Company, that has become a globally-recognized fixture in a wide variety of genres spanning from classical, pop, jazz and everything in between. To mark this occasion, a team of performers, composers, educators and music administrators have founded Vibraphone Project Inc. (VPI), whose first major endeavor is to facilitate a 3-day festival in Indianapolis, the instrument’s birthplace, to promote, support, educate and nurture artists and audiences associated with the vibraphone. One of the many ways we will accomplish this is by commissioning new works of integrity and substance for the instrument by prominent American contemporary composers, Pamela Z and Robert Honstein.

By commissioning and presenting these works, VPI hopes to inspire professionals, students and enthusiasts to seek out collaborations with artists of diverse backgrounds; to meaningfully contribute to the global repertoire with pieces that are achievable to program; and provide a platform for percussionists to work with other instrumentalists in contemporary classical performance.

Pamela Z will write a solo for vibraphone and mixed media, giving the performer a chance to utilize electronics without the demand for complex and expensive technical resources, resulting in an electro-acoustic work that is musically challenging, innovative and accessible.

Robert Honstein will compose a piece for vibraphone and mixed ensemble, offering the opportunity for percussionists to engage with other instrumentalists, inspiring percussionists to increase the breadth and depth of their own musicality.

The world premiere of these works will take place at the centennial festival for an audience of performers, composers, and educators, and are amongst a larger commissioning endeavor including a classical concerto and several jazz works of varying scopes. The performers selected will be world-class representatives of the percussion and vibraphone community, championing collaborative engagement and a forward-looking artistic approach.

This project’s timeline is as follows: Composers will sign contracts drafted by the VPI Commission Committee as soon as funding is secured, and commence composing the pieces in July 2020. Delivery is expected February 2021 for world premiere performances at VPI’s festival in May 2021.

The vibraphone stands in limitless opportunity of genre, sound and creativity, and VPI hopes to promote a more prolific use of it in centuries to come. Commissioning two composers with markedly different approaches, who mutually respect and cherish one another’s work sets an example for how the rest of the festival will celebrate and combine varying genres and artists of different backgrounds.

Project Media

Suite for Solo Voice and Electronics
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Features: Pamela Z

Pamela Z’s expertise in combining art forms, rejecting the limited connotations of labels such as “electronica,” and “multimedia” in lieu of something broader: experimental music, electroacoustic music, or “intermedia,” validates her exceptional relevance to this project. Her creativity and versatility are world-leading, alighting to the creation of a new work that will be a truly new contribution. This work sample demonstrates her creative use of electronics, foreshadowing the breadth of tools she will draw from towards this project.

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Features: Robert Honstein

Celebrated for his “waves of colorful sounds” (New York Times) and “smart, appealing works” (The New Yorker), Robert Honstein will contribute an exceptional fusion of colors in a chamber work for vibraphone and strings. This is an example of his writing for string instruments and his prolific ensemble orchestration and rhythmic ingenuity.

An Economy of Means
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Features: Robert Honstein

Robert Honstein is already a celebrated composer within the percussion community, with the notable success of his trio “An Index of Possibility” for the group TIGUE, and this solo vibraphone work “An Economy of Means” performed by Doug Perkins in this iteration. His writing for the instrument already demonstrates out-of-the-box innovation, indisputably befitting VPI’s endeavor to set the stage for decades to come. A recommended excerpt for this example is the first two movements, if short on time.

Start and End Dates



Indianapolis, Indiana

Project Created By

Marietta, Georgia
The Vibraphone Project (501(c)(3) non-profit organization) promotes, supports, educates, and nurtures artists associated with the vibraphone throughout the world. It aims to increase global appreciation for the vibraphone and its artists by expanding, educating, and inspiring audiences worldwide.  Amongst other activities, the organization presents performances and educational events, commissions and promotes new works of diverse…

In Collaboration With

San Francisco, California
New York, New York


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