The Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra was written in June and July of 1986 in Brasília and is dedicated to the composer's son Marcelo. The work was originally written for marimba and string orchestra and was premiered in the USA the same year with the Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra in Wisconsin under the direction of Manuel Prestamo. The Wind Ensemble version is arranged by Dr. Thomas McCutchen.
With the commercial success of a 1990 CD and video by Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie and the London Symphony Orchestra, the Concerto rapidly came to be regarded as part of the standard literature for percussion. It is considered to be the most popular marimba concerto today, and has been performed by more than eight hundred orchestras worldwide.
The concerto contains four movements - unusual for the concerto form – which follow the fast-slow-fast pattern, with the medium tempo third movement inserted before the vigorous finale. Some Brazilian motifs and jazz elements are used throughout the piece, which contains strong rhythmic patterns and catchy melodies. The marimba leads the thematic material throughout much the piece, and as a result, the marimba part of certain movements can be performed solo, without orchestral accompaniment. The solo part explores the many possibilities of modern four-mallet technique, and according to reviews from Percussive Notes magazine "the concerto is superbly written for the unique timbre and virtuoso technical qualities of the marimba."