Instrumentation: 5 Clarinets (Eb Clarinet, 3 Clarinets in Bb, Bass Clarinet)
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” – Albert Einstein
Several Circles is a piece for clarinet quintet (Eb Clarinet, 3 Clarinets in Bb, and Bass Clarinet) that was commissioned by Andrew Hudson in association with the 10th & Broadway Ensemble. Andrew had requested a piece from myself after meeting him at the 2016 Bang on a Can Festival. As I was also a clarinet player from high school and my later years as a musician, I naturally thought of the multi dimensional character of this woodwind instrument that I am quite accustomed to: the versatility of the technical possibilities, the vast range spanning over 3 octaves, the expanded warmth and richness this instrument is known for, and most importantly, the natural effects of arpeggios, rolls, trills, interval jumps and improvisation that makes the clarinet so fun to play on. Because of the natural orbital round effects of the clarinet family, I decided to write this work based on Wassily Kandinsky’s “Several Circles”, one of a set of 3 paintings that I had wanted to set a piece since viewing them on exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in 2006. Kandinsky’s abstract world of form not being connected to an external reality was a concept I was trying to depict in this work: the sequence of various sections and certain motific repeating textures dove tailing into one another represents the cosmos of the musical spheres that pertains to Kandinsky’s “Several Circles.” Most importantly, the colors of the various idiosyncratic performance techniques are loosely imitative of the endless circles and celestial pull that Kandinsky paints in his work. Moreover, my time writing Several Circles enabled me to circle around in my own limitless imaginative motion of wonder and discovery. Several Circles was premiered at the Music Institute of Chicago in Evanston, Illinois on 28 January, 2017.