two songs for an odd quintet

for flute, 2 Bb clarinets, viola, and bass clarinet.

written for high school level ensemble. Two movements, first is a bit bluesy with some modulation, second is in 5/8 with an ostinato.

Part of my student teaching assignment was done at Amherst Regional High School under the tutelage of Doug Purcell. The school requires that every class must have a final at the end of the year. Mr. Purcell's solution was chamber music: the students had to form their own chamber groups, find music to work on, rehearse it during class for two weeks, and perform it for the final exam. Naturally, the students wanted to work with their friends, which sometimes results in interesting instrumental combinations (e.g., bassoon and trombone reading trombone duets). As I monitored the students during their first day of rehearsing, I came across a group consisting of one flute and three clarinets trying to read through clarinet quartets, where the flutist wasn't transposing her part ("I have to transpose? No wonder it sounds bad..."). Sitting and listening was a violist friend of theirs who had a study during band period, often coming to listen to band rehearsal and do her homework. I offered to write them a piece if one of the clarinetists would switch to bass clarinet, and we all agreed that it would be cool to have the violist in on it, too. At first they were a bit wary that I would write something impossible to play and weird sounding to boot. I promised them that I wouldn't do that and that everyone would have a chance to play melody. That was on a Friday. By Monday morning they were enthusiastically clamoring for their parts, which, luckily, were ready for them. After a lot of hard work on their part, they confided that they were pretty psyched to be performing a piece written especially for them.

ca. 5'


clarinet 1
clarinet 2
bass clarinet