Program Notes & Sound Clips
***Please Note: Sound clips don't represent entire works
A Dream (2004)
Instrumentation: soprano and piano
Text by: Antoinette De Coursey Patterson
Program Notes: The title of this poem caught my attention because I find dreams rather intriguing. I was also drawn to the text because of its reference to music and roses, both of which I love. The words flow very smoothly and were just waiting for a beautiful melody to sing them.
I dreamed a dream of roses somewhere breathing
Their sweet souls out upon the summer night:
The flowers I saw not, but their fragrance wreathing
Like clouds of incense filled me with delight.
And then as if for my still further pleasure
There came a flood of sweetest melody,-
But whence I knew not flowed the wondrous measure,
For neither flute nor viol could I see.
Then in the vision of love sublime, immortal,
Encircled all my soul with its pure stream;
And though I saw thee not through dreamland's portal,
I knew thou only hadst inspired the dream.
'T is thus thine influecce itself discloses,
In dreams of love, of music, and of roses!
I. Discovery (sound clip 1) (sound clip 2)
II. Pursuit (sound clip 1) (sound clip 2)
Instrumentation: Chamber Orchestra
Throughout the piece, you will hear an evolution of musical motives and melodic fragments which were inspired by events in my life. The two movements, Discovery and Pursuit, have meaning in my own life, but I prefer to have the music tell the story.
The character of the first movement, Discovery, is lyrical, mysterious, and passionate. Discovery contains two main melodic ideas, both of which are introduced by the clarinet. These melodic fragments begin by emphasizing the intervals of a second and a seventh, both major and minor. As the ideas grow, the melodies are passed around to different instruments.
Pursuit is intense and rhythmically driven, using jazz-inspired syncopations and metric displacements. The characteristic of its harmonic material is biting dissonance. This movement is in three sections, in which you will hear two main motives. Motive “A” is introduced as a rhythmic, melodic motive stated by the woodwinds. Motive “B” is stated initially in the strings as an ascending line with large leaps. The two motives overlap in the beginning and pull further apart from each other as the piece progresses. As these motives evolve, they change in character and disguise themselves from their original. In section three, you will hear both transformed motives together in layers, with fragments of each layer passed around the orchestration.
Autumn Art (2001)
I. (sound clip)
II. (sound clip)
III. (sound clip)
IV. (sound clip)
Clarinet Quartet (4 B-flat clarinets and clarinet 4 doubles on bass clarinet
for movement one)
I. The opening melody is the material on which movements II and III are
based. After the opening theme is stated, the clarinets divide into two
groups of duets and begin a series of short, overlapping phrases. Over
time these phrases become longer and more separated. The duets become
more dissonant and higher in register. Finally, the movement comes to
a close with a statement of the opening melody, hidden within the texture
of the harmonies.
II. This movement begins with development of the subject of a quasi-fugue.
The "fugue" subject does not occur in its entirety until the
middle of the movement, with a clarinet solo. The second clarinet joins
in with a contrapuntal line. The fugue then dissolves and continues to
develop. This new development foreshadow the swirling gestures of the
III. The opening theme from movement I is now a partitioned line, woven
through the four clarinets. The sustained notes create changing harmonies
each time a clarinet changes to a different note of the melody. In the
middle section, clarinets 2-4 create an accompaniment of slow moving chords
changing on every beat while the first clarinet plays a melody above the
accompaniment. The movement then returns to the partitioned line now transposed.
The first and second clarinets play in octaves, reminiscent of the opening
of the first movement.
IV. The majority of this movement uses swirling, tangled, wind-blown gestures.
Using the technique of planing, all four clarinets move together in a
fast, furious ascending line. A new motive of quintuplets is stated. The
fourth clarinet begins a section in which the solo line is passed and
slightly overlapped between clarinets. At times this movement breaks down
into the thinner duet texture from the first movement. A brief slow section
uses the quintuplet motive. The final gesture brings the frenzied swirls
to a soft rest.
Instrumentation: E-flat Clarinet and Piano
Many times at the beginning stages of composing, I explore words, characters, images, and emotions for inspiration.
Calcipher is a character piece which, to me, evokes images of light and darkness.
It is my hope that this music will invite listeners to create their own musical journey in their imaginations.
B-flat Clarinet; Piano; Percussion 1: Marimba, Low tom-tom, Finger Cymbals,
Congas; Percussion 2: Suspended Cymbals, Finger Cymbals, Vibraphone, High
tom-tom, Tambourine, Sand Blocks, Vibra Slap
A caricature is a representation which exaggerates by means
of distortion of parts or characteristics. This piece is like a caricature
because the listener may vaguely recognize a couple different styles of
music in this piece, but the styles are loosely represented and mostly
I. Outspoken (sound clip)
II. Passionate (sound clip)
III. Blue (sound clip)
IV. Playful (sound clip)
B-flat Clarinet; Piano
Character Sketches was written for Anne Watson, who commissioned the work.
When I began writing the piece, I asked Anne to describe herself to me.
Using both Anne's description and my own based on my experience with her
as a teacher, fellow clarinetist, and friend, I wrote the movements hoping
to capture the most entertaining aspects of her personality.
In the first movement, I pictured a conversation developing between the
clarinet and piano. Each instrument takes turns being the "talker"
and "listener." The constant motion depicts the idea of a talkative,
outgoing, friendly person.
The second movement starts with a smooth, lyrical melody in the clarinet
with a calm, steady accompaniment in the piano. In the middle section,
the clarinet becomes more passionate with its dotted rhythms, and the
piano takes on a mocking tone with its minor-second clusters. By the end
of the movement, the clarinet returns to its original melody, with added
syncopated rhythms to give it an improvisatory feel that is free of the
Movement III has a slow, bluesy introduction that leads into a quicker
blues feel with a jazzy bass line in the piano. In the middle of the movement,
I occasionally mixed up the meter by omitting an eighth note from a 6/8
time signature to make a 5/8 time signature. In the end, the clarinet
and piano return to material from the beginning of the movement, but at
a quicker tempo.
The fourth movement begins with a bright, cheery, light melody in the
clarinet coupled with a fast, waltz-like accompaniment that implies mischief.
The movement travels through sections that are teasing, jazzy, passionate,
Chasing Daylight (2007)
Violin, Cello, and Percussion (Marimba and Vibraphone)
The title of this piece occurred to me as my husband and I were on a road trip driving west to Ann Arbor at dusk. As we drove, it felt as if we were chasing the daylight, trying to keep the sun from setting. We were able to maintain the feeling of dusk for quite some time, until we neared home and the sun finally caught up with us.
City of Ambition (2007)
Mvt. I: City of Ambition (sound clip 1) (sound clip 2)
Mvt. II: Night View (from Above) (sound clip 1) (sound clip 2)
Mvt. III: Steeling the Sky (sound clip 1) (sound clip 2)
Total Duration: approx. 13:00 (5:00, 3:30, 4:30)
In this work I explore the connection between sound and image, drawing my inspiration from historic photographs of New York City. Movement one is inspired by Alfred Stiegliz's 1910 photograph, “City of Ambition,” which captures a view of towering skyscrapers and billowing smoke along the New York City waterfront. The beginning of the movement mimics both the shimmering surface of the water in the image as well as the photograph’s hazy appearance. Inherent in the photograph’s title is the idea of a city bustling with energy and constant activity. In this movement I seek to portray these qualities of motion through persistent rhythmic drive, metric displacement, and abrupt shifts in orchestration.
Movement two, entitled “Night View (From Above),” is based on Berenice Abbott’s photograph “Night View,” taken in 1932 from atop the Empire State Building. This movement is evocative of sights and sensations I imagine one might have experienced while gazing down from the top of the building. At the opening of the movement, the percussion, harp and piano suggest the glittering lights of the city through “beat interference” occurring between dissonant intervals. A sense of suspension is created through the use of unresolved harmonies, fermatas, and ringing percussion. A brief but contrasting middle section, necessary to the symmetry of the movement, provides a nightmarish interruption which gradually blurs back into the dreamlike state of the opening.
A collection of Lewis Hine photographs of steelworkers constructing the Empire State Building in 1930-31 motivated me to write the third movement, “Steeling the Sky.” The music depicts the complicated relationship between humans and machines. Several passages symbolize the strength, courage and toil of men as well as the fear and imminent danger posed by hazardous work. Descending gestures suggest the fear of falling, while the overall harmonic motion ascends to the instruments’ highest registers, depicting the rise of the skyscraper. The timbre of the brass instruments, historically used to recall both war and hunting, is employed here to portray the strength and courage of the workers through bold musical statements. The jarring noise and rhythmic nature of the machinery are expressed through the use of ratchet and junk metal percussion as well as by repetition of musical gestures and phrases.
The overall form of this piece is similar to a skyscraper in its design. The three movements are arranged symmetrically in terms of tempo, with a slow second movement between fast first and third movements. All three movements have sections which climb stepwise through key areas, as if reaching toward the sky. The overall harmonic gesture of the piece is ascending as well, beginning in C-sharp minor and ending in D major. If ambition is defined as the desire to achieve a particular goal, then this piece achieves that goal, harmonically, in the end, with its half-step resolution.
Program notes for Mvt. I (if performed by itself)
The inspiration behind “City of Ambition” is twofold. First, it is based on a 1910 photograph of the same name by Alfred Stieglitz. The photo is an impressive cityscape of New York City on the oceanfront with smoke billowing from several rooftop chimneys. Second is my first impression of New York City when I visited in 2004 to hear a piece of mine performed. The city invigorated my senses, and I quickly became enamored by the skyscrapers, lights, people, and the fast pace of city life.
Musically, "City of Ambition" conveys the energy, variety, and constant activity present in NYC through its persistent rhythmic drive, syncopated rhythms, and varied orchestral textures. The opening section, originally conceived as the "shimmering" of the water in the photograph, also reflects the almost magical feeling one gets from visiting this great city for the first time. The melodies are expressive of the excitement and joy I felt while being there. The ending section is a culmination of all the activity present in the city at once, and, like a large engine gaining enormous momentum, must let off steam when it comes to a halt.
Note: Mvt. I was premiered in Ann Arbor by the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra.
(sound clip- electronic realization)
Instrumentation: Tuba-Euphonium Quartet (3 Euphoniums, 1 Tuba)
In the Greek poem, Theogony by Hesiod, Zeus releases three Cyclopes, the sons of Uranus and Gaia, from the dark pit of Tartarus, the underworld. They provide Zeus' thunderbolt, Hades' helmet of invisibility, and Poseidon's trident, and the gods use these weapons to defeat the Titans. These single-eyesound clipd giants were notorious for their foul disposition, brute strength, and quick temper. Commissioned by the Eufonix Quartet, Cyclops is inspired by the imagery and character traits of these powerful mythological creatures.
Instrumentation: Two Bass Clarinets
Dark Embers was commissioned by Matthew Miracle and completed in January, 2011. When I began writing a duet for two bass clarinets, I knew I wanted to showcase the instruments’ power and agility. The title came to me as I was gathering ideas and sketching motives at the beginning of the writing process. “Dark Embers” evoked images of smoldering hot, smoky coals which can spark a fire at any moment. Fittingly, the character of the music is fast with volatile changes of gestures. At times the instruments play a single melodic line in unison and then break apart, slightly out of synchronization, creating a blurring of the line. Other times, the instruments play in propelling parallel gestures, depicting the always present danger of spontaneous combustion. When the “Embers” encounter a final wave of momentum, will it lead to ignition or irrigation?
Dark Life of the Night Girl (2009)
Sound clips coming soon!
Instrumentation: Narrator and Orchestra
Commissioned by the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. The text was written by Thylias Moss, Mac Arthur award-winning author and professor at the University of Michigan. More notes coming soon.
Fairie Suite (2006)
I. Titania (sound clip 1) (sound clip 2)
II. Eurydice (sound clip 1) (sound clip2) (sound clip 3)
(sound clips coming soon)
IV. Lugh's Dance (sound clips coming soon)
Instrumentation: Violin Solo
Faerie Suite, written in 2005, gives you a glimpse into my search for artistic identity. Looking towards my Irish heritage for inspiration, I became interested in Celtic folklore. Each of the four movements of Faerie Suite depicts a different type of fairy. Today’s performance is the premiere of the first two movements.
Movement I describes Titania, the fairy queen in Shakespeare’s tale, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Classified as a Pixie, Titania possesses a golden aura, delicate translucent wings, and a friendly yet capricious nature. Her favorite pastimes are dancing and playing pranks.
Movement II depicts Eurydice, the famous nymph from Greek mythology, and tells the story of Orpheus and Eurydice through her eyes. Classified specifically as a Dryad, Eurydice is playful and spontaneous and possesses a gorgeous voice, which is very compelling to humans. Eurydice’s tale of misfortune begins innocently as she is frolicking through the forest, stopping occasionally to sing to her lover. Suddenly, she is bitten by a serpent and dies. She weeps bitterly for her lost love, until she unexpectedly sees Orpheus standing before Hades, playing his lyre. For a small moment, she is hopeful that he will rescue her. But when Orpheus makes the fatal mistake of looking back at her, she is destined to remain there forever alone.
Movement III portrays a Siren, aka Lorelei, who is a lovely young woman fairy that sits on ocean cliffs and sings, luring sailors to their tragic deaths in the rocks below.
Movement IV, Lugh’s Dance, descibes the leprechaun. The ancient origins of what we know today as the leprechaun was a Euro-Cletic god named Lugh (pronouced "Luck"). Lugh was the great Sun God of the Irish and Euro-Celts and patron of Arts and Crafts. A leprechaun’s favorite pastimes include music, dancing, and drinking Irish whiskey. It is said that once a leprechaun begins dancing to a human’s song, he cannot stop until the tune ceases. His exhausted state may cause him to make outlandish offers, including his crock of gold.
Fire and Ice (2010)
Instrumentation: Clarinet Duet
Program Notes: In Sept. of 2009 on a trip to Arizona, a friend introduced me to the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Needing something to read on the plane, I borrowed the first two books and began the first Twilight novel on the way home. I was immediately hooked and finished the second book within a week. A couple weeks later I acquired the next two books and devoured them as well. Since then, I have read and thoroughly enjoyed them a second time. Admittedly, I felt rather ridiculous about my fervor for a teen novel series, but I loved it because it reminded me of being young and in love, and it mirrored my own passion I felt toward my spouse.
After reading the Twilight series, I was musically inspired by the star-crossed lovers, Bella and Edward, and the paradox of their unique relationship. Fire and Ice represents, in my mind, the passionate and precarious bond of Bella (warm, delicate, breakable, slow, and clumsy) and Edward (frozen, indestructible, and extraordinarily strong, fast and graceful) and the struggles they must face in their challenging relationship.
Fire and Ice was commissioned by Andy Hudson for his wife, Brittany on the occasion of their wedding.
Grit 'n Grind (2012)
(Sound clip - coming soon!)
Instrumentation: Bass Clarinet Solo
Grit ’n Grind was commissioned by my good friend and very talented bass clarinetist, Anne Watson, professor of clarinet at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The idea for the piece came to me in Anne’s Facebook status update about an upcoming 5K race that she was to partake in. The bizarre names of the obstacles she listed sounded like movement titles, thus giving me the inspiration for the piece.
The title can be understood both literally and figuratively. “Grit” reflects the determination, strength, and indomitable spirit needed to overcome a daunting physical or mental obstacle, and “Grind” refers to a task which requires much work, exertion or perseverance. The virtuosity of the three movements are meant to be physically exhausting to play one after the other, much like running a race or exerting yourself over a long period of time. The intricate interval patterns and complicated rhythms present both physical and mental challenges to the performer. Symbolically, the piece represents the obstacles one may encounter in life. Musically, the driving rhythms and challenging octave leaps evoke thoughts of endurance, persistence, and momentum.
Growth Spurt (2007)
(sound clip 1)
(sound clip 2)
Instrumentation: Clarinet and Piano
Program Notes: Growth Spurt was commissioned by the A.N. and Pearl G. Barnett Family Foundation for a young artist international clarinet competition. Three finalists were chosen to perform a recital in Chicago, each playing Growth Spurt as one of the recital pieces. The performances were judged by Larry Combs and Gregory Smith. The winner of the competition was Blagoj Lamnjov of Sweden.
Growth Spurt was inspired by the birth of my son, Aidan, who was born a healthy 8 lbs., 13 oz. in October of 2007. His rapid growth and development continues to amaze me. I wrote this one month after his birth.
Instrumentation: Solo Clarinet
While composing the opening gesture of Gryphon, my mind envisioned a magnificent creature possessing a magical and seductive aura standing proudly on the cliffs of an ocean. He is wild and quick-tempered, yet he can be surprisingly calm and gentle at times. Gryphon seemed an appropriate title for this piece because it really portrays the characteristics I imagine this mythical beast would have. Physically, a gryphon is commonly depicted as having the head, wings, and talons of an eagle, the body of a lion, and in some cases, the tail of a snake. According to legends, the gryphon is blessed with the speed, flight, and penetrating vision of the eagle, and the strength, courage and majesty of the lion.
(sound clip 1)
(sound clip 2)
Imprints was written as a reaction to a tragic event which left "imprints"
on my heart. In this piece, I used descriptive words to outline the emotions
I wanted the piece to encompass. I also created an intensity graph as
a guide for the form of the piece, which has two main sections. The first
section is shorter and reaches its peak in less time than the second section,
which builds gradually before reaching its climax. Section one begins
with motives that are sinister, dark, slowly stirring, evil, unknown,
and hidden. It quickly builds to hurried and furiously spinning motion
and in the process reveals its intentions. The second half begins intense
with feelings of shock and horror, and instruments playing high, shrill,
and in extreme registers. Immediately following this, the music depicts
sadness, mourning, and grieving feelings. The rest of the piece evolves
through four emotions: sadness, fear, pride, and finally hope.
Little Voices (2001-2)
I. Conversations (2001) (sound clip)
II. Singing (2001) (sound clip)
III. Chatter (2002) (sound clip)
C Trumpet (with Harmon and Cup mutes)
Movement I, "Conversations," was created using a twelve tone
row and a combination of transpositions, inversions, and retrogrades of
the row. The opening statement combines two rows, each with a different
character, as if two people are having a conversation. The movement explores
different timbres of the instrument, using a Harmon mute, the flutter
tongue, contrasting dynamics and extreme registers of the trumpet.
The second movement, "Singing," is written in a slow, lyrical
style which allows the trumpet to exhibit its expressive capabilities.
The long lines are very smooth, like a thick liquid substance. The dynamics
alternate between loud and soft, reflecting on the previous movement.
In the middle section, the flutter tongue technique returns from the first
movement and is used more prominently. The final section returns to the
long lyrical lines from the beginning. The A-flat, the highest note so
far in the second movement, finally soars to the B-flat and then slowly
floats in a downward stream to the end.
The final movement, "Chatter," is light-hearted and less serious
than the previous movements. The quick-moving, staccato notes represent
a person who is chatty. The short middle section, with the slower tempo
and dotted rhythms, represents the chatty person who is contemplating
for a moment, only to go back to his/her chatty old self again.
Live Wire (2010)
(sound clip 1)
(sound clip 2)
Robert Spring and Jana Starling
July 24, 2010, International Clarinet Association ClarinetFest, Austin, TX, by Robert Spring and Jana Starling
The inspiration for Live Wire is actually the title itself. I thought of it when brainstorming musical ideas for another clarinet duet, Fire and Ice. When researching the title, I learned that “Live Wire” has been a 1992 film, a 1980’s teen talk show on Nickelodeon, several computer software programs, a wrestling television program in the late 1990’s, an orange-flavored soft drink, a British train operator magazine, a comic book superhero in DC Comics universe, a 2004 album title by a Christian rock band, a 1964 Martha and the Vandellas single, and a song by Mötley Crüe from their 1981 album. I was disappointed that my title was not as original as I thought; nonetheless, its long history proves its success as a flashy and succinct title. I decided the world was finally ready for my version of “Live Wire,” this time for two clarinets.
The piece has five sections which are introduced individually in the beginning and then return or are juxtaposed simultaneously in the later half of the piece. The inspirations for the music were fallen high-voltage power lines, the fast flow of electricity, alternating and direct currents, escaping sparks of electricity, and dangerous electrical shocks. Live Wire is written for my two dear friends, Bob Spring and Jana Starling, whose energy on stage is always electrifying.
Mezzo Soprano and Alto with Piano
Love's Philosophy was written as a wedding song for a friend. The poem
is by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Mingling Contradictions (2004)
(sound clip 1)
(sound clip 2)
Clarinet, Violin, Piano, Electronics (Max/MSP)
Nov. 17, 2003 Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Mingling Contradictions originated as a choreography collaboration project for composition seminar. The title refers to the contrasting elements in this piece. Some of the "contradictions" include old and new, fast and slow, rhythmic and lyrical. Writing for dance and incorporating electronics in my music are both new to me. The electronic sounds were manipulated and arranged using ProTools and are played back in the program, Max/MSP, which I am able to cue in live performance.
The piece begins with a rhythmic driving bass line in the piano with percussive, metallic sounds in the electronics. The violin enters with a melodic line floating over the top. The clarinet then joins the violin, accentuating the dissonances between the two instruments. The rhythmic drive soon comes to a halt, where the lyrical exchanges begin. The clarinet, paired with the violin, has a conversation with the piano, which becomes more and more animated. Finally, the rhythmic driving section returns and continues to build to the end.
The work was premiered Nov. 17, 2003. At this performance, the choreography also contributed to the title of the piece. Two dancers each choreographed a separate interpretation of this piece and performed them simultaneously.
10th and Broadway Clarinet Quartet
Aug., 7, 2011, ICA ClarinetFest in Los Angeles, CA, California State University Northridge, 10th and Broadway Clarinet Quartet
Program Notes: Monstress was commissioned by "10th and Broadway" Clarinet Quartet for performance at ICA 2011 in Los Angeles. It was completed in March, 2011. While composing Monstress, several images came to mind for inspiration. The first motives I composed reminded me of a vortex with spinning, turbulent fluid. This led me toward the idea of an imaginary female monster that would perhaps be able to create such a vortex. After giving her personality some consideration, I decided she was to be a fierce, cunning seductress. The enchanted monstress would also be agile, quick-tempered, and beautiful, luring her prey with her haunting melodies. While she exists only in my mind, she lives through my music.
Moto Perpetuo (arr. 2002)
(sound clip 1)
Composer: Niccolo Paganini
Instrumentation: arranged for clarinet, oboe, and bassoon
Program Notes: Clarinetist Robert Spring commissioned the arrangement of Moto Perpetuo for the inaugural concert program welcoming Arizona State University's president, Dr. Michael Crow on Nov. 5, 2002. Also premiering the work was Martin Schuring, oboe, and Jeffrey Lyman, bassoon.
Peaches at Midnight (2010)
(Click here to listen)
Ohio University for Michele Fiala
Jun. 4, 2011, International Double Reed Society Conference, Tempe, AZ by Michele Fiala and Andrew Campbell
Recording Available: Michele Fiala, "Overheard", MSR Classics
One night at midnight my two-year-old son woke up and sweetly asked if he could have some peaches. Normally I would have said “no,” but the idea seemed so absurd and hilarious that I decided to allow him to come downstairs for a midnight snack. I even took a picture to commemorate the event. When sharing the story and picture with friends, the phrase “Peaches at Midnight” stuck with me and inspired me to write this piece.
The form of the piece is a “mirror” form, in which sections from the beginning return, but in the opposite order in which they first appeared. The beginning and the end suggest awakening and falling back asleep. The middle sections depict the joyful exuberance, creative imagination, energetic playfulness, and abrupt temperament changes of toddlers that make experiencing life with them so unpredictable and wonderful.
Pulse Break (2012)
(sound clips - coming soon!)
Instrumentation: Two Clarinets and Percussion
Robert Spring and Joshua Gardner
Premiere: Sept. 9, 2012, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, by Robert Spring, Joshua Gardner, and J.B. Smith
The pulse of your life: does it have a regular rhythm, is it constantly shifting, is it full of energy and vitality? What makes your pulse change suddenly? Perhaps a love, friendship, lucky opportunity, ambitious goal, exciting challenge, unexpected surprise? Do you accept the change? Does your pulse continue on as before, or is it changed forever?
(sound clip 1)
(sound clip 2)
Instrumentation: duet for clarinet and bassoon
Robert Spring, Albie Micklich
Sept. 12, 2009, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ by Robert Spring and Albie Micklich
The definition of a riptide is a narrow, powerful current of water flowing directly away from shore. This rapid outgoing channel of water flattens incoming waves, luring unsuspecting swimmers with their calm appearance. Often sudden and unexpected, they move swiftly along the surface of the water, pulling swimmers straight out into the ocean. They key to survival is to swim out of a riptide, not against it, by swimming parallel to shore. In this piece, I tried to capture some of these characteristics of a riptide.
Often when faced with life’s many challenges, one can be easily swept into the ocean of uncertainties. This piece is about the strength and perseverance required to overcome life’s unexpected “riptides.”
Solar Flair (2004)
(sound clip 1)
(sound clip 2)
Instrumentation: Clarinet duet
Sept. 12, 2004 at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, by Robert Spring and Jorge Montilla
Honorable Mention in ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Competition, 2005
Robert Spring had asked that the piece be fast and aggressive. Knowing the abilities of the two clarinetists, I had the opportunity to write a technically demanding and breathtaking piece. While I was studying at the Belgian Clarinet Academy in the summer of 2004, I mentioned to a friend and fellow clarinetist, Alana Bundock, my search for an inspiration for the piece. She suggested the title Solar Flare. Not knowing much about solar flares, I researched the topic on the internet when I returned home. A definition of solar flare is as follows:
A flare is a sudden, rapid, and intense variation in brightness. A solar flare occurs when magnetic energy that has built up in the solar atmosphere is suddenly released, causing radiation to emit across virtually the entire electromagnetic spectrum. The amount of energy released is the equivalent of millions of 100-megaton hydrogen bombs exploding at the same time!
This description of solar flares sparked my interest and inspired me to write this piece. In the title, I use the work "flair" to highlight the great talent and artistry of the two clarinetists who would perform the work.
The piece begins with a flashy, energetic introduction, followed by a sweet melodic phrase. Perpetual motion reigns throughout the piece, with only a few moments of relaxation. The melody returns between various abrupt, intense interjections, or "flares."
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (2005)
I. Meeting (sound clip1) (sound clip2)
II. Parting (sound clip)
III. Reflecting (sound clip1)(sound clip2)
Commissioner: Walt Nielsen
Nov. 20, 2005, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ by Walt Nielsen and Gail Novak
Instrumentation: B-flat Clarinet and Piano
Completed in August, 2005, Sonata is a three-movement "characteristic" work modeled after a paradigm involving interpersonal relationships, namely, initially getting to know, then having to part from, and eventually reflecting upon, a particularly good friend. Movement I starts with a quick three-note motive. Through rhythmic and pitch transformation, this motive evolves into a number of thematic fragments, some of which reappear throughout the composition. The work is unified by these thematic fragments, which depict different emotions associated with the paradigm. Besides creating and building upon the thematic fragments, Martin uses tempi, dynamics, dissonance, rhythm, and texture to depict a wide variety of sentiments.
Version 1 with oboe (sound clip)
Version 2 with violin (sound clip)
Instrumentation: Soprano, flute, clarinet, violin (or oboe), cello, piano, double bass
Un Poco Loco (2001)
Instrumentation: arr. for Jazz Ensemble
The title Zero Infinity appropriately describes my compositional conception of this piece, equal and opposite.
The piece is in one movement, divided into three sections. Sections one and three are equals in that they contain intense rhythmic drive.
Section two, however, is the complete opposite of this, being very slow and lyrical. In this piece, I explore the extreme range of the
tuba, many times stretching the technical limits of conventional tuba writing. The percussion part, which is also very challenging,
helps keep the rhythmic energy throughout the piece.
Zero Infinity (2005, rev. 2012)
Recording Available: itunes
Instrumentation: Tuba and Percussion
Sam Pilafian and J.B. Smith
Feb. 25, 2007 at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ by Sam Pilafian and J.B. Smith
Zero Infinity was commissioned in 2005 by Sam PIlafian, an amazing and talented musician,
who is professor of tuba at Arizona State University. In thinking of a title for this piece,
I came across an article which discussed the mysterious zero/infinity conundrum. Zero and infinity
represent powerful adversaries at either end of the realm of numbers that we use in modern science.
Yet, zero and infinity are two sides of the same coin--equal and opposite, yin and yang. "Multiply zero by anything and you get zero. Multiply infinity by anything and you get infinity.
Dividing a number by zero yields infinity; dividing a number by infinity yields zero. Adding zero to a number
leaves the number unchanged. Adding a number to infinity leaves infinity unchanged." Yet, the biggest
questions in sciences, philosophy, and religion are about nothingness and eternity, the void and the infinite, zero and infinity.
The concepts of zero and infinity continue to astound and intrigue me, much like the technical and musical capabilities of tuba player Sam Pilafian.
This piece was written to showcase the "infinite" talent of the performers.