John B Hedges

composer & musician

Three Pieces for Clarinet (2005)

Duration: 11'

Program Notes:

More of an evolved set than a conceived entity, these Three Pieces for Clarinet were written over the span of 5 years for 4 clarinetists from 3 continents and widely varied backgrounds. The first piece, Sit ’n’ Spin was written in London for two British clarinetists after a week of music and laughter at the Britten-Pears School. The title is an homage to the brilliant (and slightly ridiculous) children’s toy of the same name, which my British friends though particularly amusing. It’s difficult to explain without seeing one in person, but essentially children sit on a rotating seat and spin themselves around a fixed center. One can still find Sit ‘n’ Spins on ebay and the casual youtube browser may stumble on the old commercial...The piece moves back and forth between the quirky, slightly absurb fun of a Sit ‘n’ Spin and the ‘seriousness business’(?) of modern music.

The second piece, Absencia, is a simple, fantasy and melody for absent loved ones. It was composed in 2002 for a graduation recital I was sharing with my good friend, Argentinian clarinetist Victoria Luperi, at the Curtis Institute. Unfortunately, her parents were not able to attend the performance in Philadelphia due to the economic disaster in Argentina at the time. The work became a lyrical meditation in the recital for us to think of them in their absence. (Don’t worry, we recorded the recital and they did get to hear it!)

Riff is a classical rondo with dreams of being a jazz solo. It lays down an opening riff which is spun out and hyper-synchopated in an improvised fashion from start to finish. It is dedicated to Jon Hamann, one of the most energetic and inventive people I know: a Montana-based businessman and engineer who just happens to be an extraordinary clarinetist always looking for a challenge. The complete set, including Riff, was premiered in September of 2011 by clarinetist Rob Patterson.