As we begin our season and embark on our New Music Series in particular, we explore a tradition that today’s composers have maintained from their creative ancestors: the reliance on inspiration.
This is something we are familiar with from voices of the past. We often think of what inspired them or what inspiration looked like for them, and this usually informs how we hear their music. Bach was driven by his Lutheran religion. As he said, “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” We picture Mozart composing with great facility - being easily inspired and prolifically writing works in his head. Conversely, Beethoven’s struggle for inspiration is a significant part of his reputation, his late style being especially informed by his sense of mortality and possibly his mortality suspended by his inspiration and fundamental need to write more. Dvořák was inspired by the music of his homeland as well as his new surroundings in America. Bartók was inspired by folk music which he studied. Brahms was inspired by the musicians he worked with. Messaien was inspired by mystical spirituality. Naturally, none of these composers were inspired by one single thing- the works came from external and internal influences, making their music rich and uniquely theirs.
Let’s take a closer look at Vivian Fung’s world premiere of "Clarinet Quintet: Frenetic Memories" on our first New Music concert on November 9th in the Rose Studio at 6:30 and 9:00 PM. This piece was born out of a collaboration between CMS clarinetist Romie de Guise-Langlois and the Daedalus Quartet.
"This piece came about because of the first CMS collaboration that the Daedalus String Quartet and I did in January 2013 when we played James MacMillan’s moving clarinet quintet ‘Tuireadh’. We enjoyed working together so much, we thought that it would be a great idea to work on a project together. [We were] introduced [to] Vivian Fung and her music, which I found beautiful, and she seemed like the perfect person for our project."
Vivian is very inspired by non-Western folk music, Brazilian rhythms, and her world travels. She says of this new work:
"Clarinet Quintet: Frenetic Memories" is inspired both by the music of minority groups in Southwest China and by my travels to that region in 2012. My memories of the trip are simultaneously vivid and scattered - we heard many different groups and stayed with local families and farmers, taking in many new sounds, sights, and experiences, and at times it was a bit overwhelming. This quintet uses the sounds I heard as a departure for my own original music, with paraphrases here and there from different sources. Overall, the music is quite intense and evocative and especially features the clarinet in a virtuosic way. At the very end, I request that a recording of an Yi minority folk singer singing “Wuyin Mountain Song” be played as a paean to this extraordinary and little known music."
In addition to Vivian’s piece, the concert on November 9th features works by Anna Weesner, Shulamit Ran, and Missy Mazzoli. All of these composers have unique voices and different backgrounds. Come be the first to hear "Clarinet Quintet: Frenetic Memories” November 9th and learn more about the inspiration of these other fantastic composers.
Hear great music and meet the composers – tickets are only $35.
Article by Beth Helgeson, Director of Artistic Planning and Administration