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“Mirrors of Emptiness” by Grigory Smirnov


“Mirrors of Emptiness” by Grigory Smirnov

Performed by Denis Petrunin

Mallet Selection for this Piece:


Robert van Sice Signature (M124)

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Medium. The most popular mallet in the series. Extraordinary range of color, which is easily manipulated by the performer.


Robert van Sice Signature (M125)

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Medium hard. This is the most expressive mallet of the series and is an ideal choice for the modern marimba repertoire.


I wrote Mirrors of Emptiness by request from the Danish music publisher Edition Svitzer in 2008. Seeking a way to expand the expression of marimba sound and technique without adding extra instruments, I used the electronic effect of stereo delay (echo) which produces reflections of sound, very much like a mirror produces reflections of light. Sound of marimba reminded me of something empty: marimba actually uses a physical emptiness for the acoustic resonance.  These suggested the title of the piece. I thought about how emptiness can produce some illusion of ‘fullness’ just through numerous reflections of itself. In the same way some of our ‘empty’ thoughts or ideas multiplied by reflections and repetitions may produce an entire ‘empty’ reality. Starting from a “heartbeat-like” motive in the beginning of the piece, the music develops into a large multi-sectional composition. On a technical side, the performance of Mirrors of Emptiness requires a microphone or two, a digital audio processor or software for the stereo delay effect, and a pair of speakers on the stage.

– Grigory Smirnov

The sheet music is available from Edition Svitzer: http://editionsvitzer.com/catalog/mirrors-of-emptiness/c-23/p-267

“I instantly fell in love with Mirrors of Emptiness when I have heard it for the first time – it was absolutely striking.

The way Grigory uses digital delay in this piece takes the sound of marimba to a different level.

I strongly believe, that Mirrors of Emptiness is one of the masterpieces which enriches our repertoire and allows the listener to perceive marimba from a completely different perspective.”

– Denis Petrunin


Grigory Smirnov is a composer and pianist based in New York City.

His compositions have been performed around the globe in major venues, such as Lincoln Center, Tanglewood, Merkin Concert Hall, Moscow Philharmonic Society and The Copenhagen Opera House. His recent CD “Dowson Songs • Chaconne”, released by Naxos Records (“Critic’s Choice” in Opera News magazine) features a large-scale song cycle Dowson Songs, commissioned by The ASCAP Foundation and premiered at Merkin Concert Hall. Grigory Smirnov’s music has been featured on WQXR, America’s leading classical music radio station, and in a number of festivals worldwide, including Tanglewood Music Center (MA, USA), Brevard Music Center (NC, USA), Composers Now (New York), ppIANISSIMO (Sofia, Bulgaria), Chamber Music Sessions (Kiev, Ukraine), CTAM Festival (Moscow, Russia), Blue Lake Summer Arts Festival (MI, USA).

As a pianist, Grigory Smirnov performs classical, contemporary and improvisational music.

Born in Novosibirsk, Russia, Grigory Smirnov studied as a pianist at the Novosibirsk Music College and as a composer with Yuri Yukechev at the Glinka Novosibirsk State Conservatory. During his years in Russia, he was awarded a composition prize at the IV Prokofiev International Competition and debuted as a composer of orchestral music with his composition Pastorale which was premiered by the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Orchestra. Since moving to the United States, he received his Master of Music degree in composition from The Juilliard School (2011), where he studied with Christopher Rouse. He was a Tanglewood Music Center Fellow in 2011.

Website: www.grigorysmirnov.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GrigorySmirnovMusic



Mr. Petrunin’s percussive activity covers solo, chamber, and orchestra areas.

He has appeared at Carnegie, Avery Fisher, and other prestigious concert halls in the United States, Russia, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, England, Holland and Spain.

Coming from Moscow, Russia, Denis has been playing music since the age of five. He started his education at The Gnessins School of Music (guided by his father, George Petrunin), received his Bachelor degree from The Curtis Institute of Music under the guidance of Don Liuzzi and Michael Bookspan, completed his Artist Diploma and Master of Music degree at the Yale University School of Music under the instruction of Prof. Robert van Sice.

Being an Adams and Zildjian artist, as well as a member of the Vic Firth Educational Team, Mr. Petrunin is frequently invited to teach masterclasses in different cities of Russia.

His performances have been broadcast on WHYY radio (Philadelphia, PA). His awards include the Avedis Zildjian Percussion Scholarship, PASIC 2009 Chamber Competition Winner (as a part of the Yale Percussion Group), and the Spivakov Foundation Scholarship.

Mr. Petrunin has appeared as a soloist with the Gnessins Virtuosos Orchestra, the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, “The Seasons” Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and the Curtis Chamber Ensemble.

The primary goal of his music career is the popularisation of percussion instruments and expansion of contemporary percussive repertoire.

Denis and his wife, violinist Anastasia Petrunina, have founded a concert duo named ViMaDeAn. Their performances have been welcomed by various audiences in Russia and abroad. ViMaDeAn has recently commissioned several works written by Russian and American composers. The duo believes that every performance can make a difference in somebody’s life by bringing joy and sharing positive energy from their music making.

Mr. Petrunin held the position of Co-Principal Timpanist of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra (Svetlanov Symphony Orchestra) in Moscow, Russia in 2007– 2008 concert season. He also was the Principal Timpanist/Percussionist of The Moscow Chamber Opera Theatre.

Denis has performed under the batons of Christoph Eschenbach, Sir Simon Rattle, David Zinman, Otto Werner Mueller, Charles Dutoit, Yakov Kreizberg, Sir Roger Norrington, William Lacey, Michael Stern, Rosen Milanov, Vladimir Yurovsky, Yuri Bashmet, Alexander Lazarev

Currently Mr. Petrunin is a timpanist with the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre.

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