Music by

PROGRAM NOTES by the composer
Summer Solstice   Concerto for Clarinet and Strings

In 1986 I began a Lyric Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet, composing two movements of the projected three that year. As a clarinetist, I'd always been inspired by the Brahms and Mozart quintets, and I'd also been freshly inspired by Eddie Daniels' recent recordings of jazz clarinet with symphony orchestra. Work on the Lyric Quintet was interrupted soon after the second movement, as I became a father for the first time and then was fortunate to have several years of commissions with premiere deadlines; as a result I had to put the Lyric Quintet aside until 1992.

Coming back six years later, I decided this would be better as a Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra. The larger string ensemble allowed thick jazz chords to be played more richly and smoothly, allowed contrasts between solo strings and tuttis, and added the advantages of having a conductor. Starting life as intimately blended chamber music rather than as a concerto, Movements 1 & 2 use the clarinet as a balanced ensemble member at least as much as a soloist, and there are many solo passages for strings. Only the third movement was originally conceived for full string orchestra, leading this final movement to more dramatic contrasts between clarinet and strings.

The music has a light, summery feel, and the friendly relationship of the clarinet to the strings somehow struck me as a solstice-like meeting point, therefore the poetic title Summer Solstice, with Concerto in the subtitle.

Summer Solstice was premiered in Philadelphia on March 31, 1994 by Orchestra 2001 conducted by James Freeman, with Arne Running as clarinet soloist.


   John Yeh and Alan Gilbert applauding  the composer 
   after their performance.
last updated February 21, 2020