A Multitude of Clarinets!

by markcarlson on August 10, 2011

Last week for me was all about the International Clarinet Association’s annual ClarinetFest, this time at Cal State, Northridge—a fun, exhilarating, and exhausting experience.

Pacific Serenades was well-represented. Two works we had commissioned and premiered were performed: my own The Hall of Mirrors, for clarinet and piano—beautifully played by Gary Whitman and Andrew Rosenblum—and Robert Aldridge’s Three Folksongs, for clarinet and string quartet—played with great élan by our own Gary Gray, Roger Wilkie, Connie Kupka, Roland Kato, and David Speltz.

We had an exhibit table at the festival, too. Our Administrator, Andrew Fairweather, and I had a lot of fun talking with clarinetists about the many clarinet pieces we have commissioned and premiered—and now publish. Our first two CDsThe Hall of Mirrors and Border Crossings—which together contain four pieces involving clarinet, sold like hotcakes. Of course, it helped that one of those has The Hall of Mirrors on it and the other Three Folksongs. The audience of clarinetists obviously loved those pieces.

At the performance of Three Folksongs, as I listened to our gang play Bob Aldridge’s beautiful piece, and as I heard the crowd burst into enthusiastic applause, I felt so proud: this piece exists because of Pacific Serenades! It has gone out there into the world, has had many performances, and has touched many people. I can tell it will continue to do so.

This is also true of The Hall of Mirrors, which was having its fourth ClarinetFest performance—Chicago in 1994, Stockholm in 2002, Salt Lake City in 2003, and Northridge in 2011—and which has become my most-performed piece. It really has become part of the clarinet repertoire.

These are but two examples of the many pieces we have commissioned and premiered which have had lives beyond their first performances. This is exactly why I started Pacific Serenades—to enrich the repertoire of chamber music, especially by those of us in Southern California who for many years have been writing our own distinct brand of new music. And though Bob Aldridge is one of the few exceptions to our geographic focus, the overt beauty of his music fits right in. (I hope he won’t mind if I consider him an honorary Californian).

So please permit me to exult in a moment of pride, as I appreciate the impact that Pacific Serenades is having on the world of chamber music. It’s really working!

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