Duration: 7 minutes
Instrumentation: Bb Clarinet and Piano
Premiere: Caitlin Poupard and Gail Novak, March 20, 2016
I first discovered the term paragone while reading a book about the science of competitiveness. In the Italian Renaissance, paragone was the idea of competition between creative artists: painters, musicians, and sculptors. They believed that only through paragone could you see the real significance of a work. Artists trained side-by-side in direct competition and often debated over which of the creative endeavors was the most worthy.
In modern times, the English term paragon, has come to mean a model or pattern of excellence, an ideal or standard. This is where my inspiration was fully ignited. I wanted to write a piece that, in my mind, outlined the perfect life. It would begin with birth and a soul being surrounded by love, move through phases of learning, joy, amusement, and adventure, and would come back full circle to all-encompassing love into a peaceful departure from this world.
Paragon has personal significance for me, as well. During the course of writing the piece, a relative of mine passed away from cancer at age 62. No one knows how much time we will have on this earth. Paragon is my shared hope for the ideal life, full of meaning, love, and joy.
- Theresa Martin, Jan. 2016
Paragon (2015) was commissioned by Caitlin Poupard as part of her doctoral dissertation at Arizona State University.