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Clarinet Friends | June 18, 2021 – 7:30 pm ET

Livestream Event

Felix MendelssohnKonzertstück 2
Marti EpsteinNebraska Impromptu
Franz SchubertShepherd on the Rock
Carlos GuastavinoRosita Iglesias
Guillaume ConnessonTechno-Parade

Enjoy an evening of classics and new works for clarinet featuring clarinetist Yhasmin Valenzuela-Blanchard joined by Danielle Aldach, Deirdre Viau, Ariel Mo, Victor Xie, Teng Cao and Stephanie Clark. Presented with Groupmuse.

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Program Notes

Mendelssohn met Clarinet virtuoso Heinrich Baermann (1784-1847) in 1829 and became good friends. Both Concert Piece No. 1 in F Minor (Op. 113) & Concert Piece No. 2 in D Minor (Op. 114) were composed for Clarinet, Basset Horn (in F) and Piano in December 1832 and first performed in January 1833 with Baermann on Clarinet, his son Carl (1811-1885) on Basset Horn and Mendelssohn on Piano. (Notes from Classical Collection Inc.).

Nebraska Impromptu was written in 2013 and premiered by Rane Moore and Donald Berman in 2014. It is a musical reflection of the Nebraska landscape from childhood memories.  The piece opens with a series of chords; the subsequent sections are developments of each of the specific chords. 

Guastavino’s work Rosita Iglesias was written in 1965 for violin and piano, and is part of the series Las Presencias. The piece, of poetic beauty and subtle melancholia, is a characteristic work of the author. The manuscript contains a note stating "The names in these works are fictional. Any similarity with that of a known person is pure coincidence". However, the first edition was revised and published with the fingerings of Rosita Iglesias, a violin teacher much appreciated by Carlos Guastavino. Here this work is presented for clarinet and piano. (Adapted from notes at

Cinco Bocetos - Latin American composer Roberto Sierra has written these colorful sketches (bocetos) of tropical scenery to explore the different registral, timbral and virtuosic possibilities of the clarinet. The first movement (Preludio) starts the set with exciting rhythms of salsa while Interludio Nocturno (Nocturnal Interlude) glances at the beautiful and ephemeral images of the tropical nights. Rustic songs inspire Cancion del Campo (Country Song) and Cancion de la Montana (Mountain Song). The cycle closes with Final con Pajaros (Finale with Birds) that quotes an old Catalonian folk tune. (Notes From Subito Music).

The Shepherd on the Rock was written as a belated response to a request from the operatic soprano Pauline Anna Milder-Hauptmann, a friend of Schubert. She had requested a showpiece that would allow her to express a wide range of feelings. Milder sang it for the first time at the House of the Blackheads in Riga on 10 February 1830. The Lied has three sections, with clarinet and voice equally challenged. The first is warm, as the lonely shepherd on the mountaintop listens to echoes rising from below. The second section grows dark as he expresses grief and loneliness. The short last section anticipates the coming of spring and, with it, rebirth. (Adapted from Wikipedia)

Techno-Parade opens with driving repetitions and virtuosic riffs conveying the relentless excitement of techno music. Yet this is an ironic take on the electronic music genre. Unpredictably shifting meters, occasionally settling into an uneven if temporarily constant feeling of 7/4, are in alternation with passages lacking the comfort of any obvious downbeat. In the middle of the piece there is a percussion break, where the pianist uses a wire brush and places sheets of paper directly on top of the piano strings. The composer explains “[Techno-Parade] was written with a continuous pulsation, from start to finish. There are two decisive motives, swirling and colliding together, giving the piece its character, festive and disquieting at the same time. The wailing of the clarinet and the obsessive patterns of the piano seek to recapture the fierce energy of techno music... The three instruments seem drawn into a rhythmic trance that carries the piece to its conclusion in a frenetic tempo.”Extended techniques and extreme ranges for the winds create a changing constellation of colors and textures, compelling the listener toward increasing levels of participation. Maybe you can’t dance to it, but one thing is sure: this music moves. (Program notes by Elinor Olin from the

Composer Bios

Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847) was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. Mendelssohn's compositions include symphonies, concertos, piano music, organ music and chamber music. A grandson of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, Felix Mendelssohn was born into a prominent Jewish family. He was brought up without religion until the age of seven, when he was baptised as a Reformed Christian. Felix was recognised early as a musical prodigy, but his parents were cautious and did not seek to capitalise on his talent.

Mendelssohn enjoyed early success in Germany, and revived interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, notably with his performance of the St Matthew Passion in 1829. He became well received in his travels throughout Europe as a composer, conductor and soloist; his ten visits to Britain – during which many of his major works were premiered – form an important part of his adult career. His essentially conservative musical tastes set him apart from more adventurous musical contemporaries. He is now among the most popular composers of the Romantic era.

Marti Epstein is a composer whose music has been performed by the San Francisco Symphony, The Radio Symphony Orchestra of Frankfurt, Ensemble Modern, and members of the Boston Symphony. She has completed commissions for the Fromm Foundation, The Munich Biennale, the Ludovico Ensemble, Guerilla Opera, the Radius Ensemble, Tanglewood Music Center, Winsor Music, Boston Opera Collaborative, and the Callithumpian Consort. During the 2017-2018 concert season, Marti’s work was featured extensively alongside the work of Anton Webern on the Trinity Wall Street’s Time’s Arrow Festival in New York City. Her music was also performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players in Leipzig, Germany in June 2018. Her opera, Rumpelstiltskin, was presented with shadow puppetry in May 2019 in New York City. In November 2019, the Boston-based Ludovico Ensemble presented three portrait concerts of Marti’s music in celebration of her 60th birthday. In 2021 her music was featured as part of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s streaming concert content. Marti was a two-time fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center (1986 and 1988) and a two-time fellow at the MacDowell Colony (1997 and 1998). In 2020, Marti was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to compose Seven Sisters, Radiant Sisters for the Hinge Ensemble, Alpenglow for loadbang, and In Praise of Broken Clocks for soundicon. Marti is Professor of Composition at Berklee College of Music/Boston Conservatory of Music.

Carlos Guastavino (1912 – 2000) was an Argentine composer, considered one of the foremost composers of his country. His production amounted to over 500 works, most of them songs for piano and voice, many still unpublished. His style was quite conservative, always tonal and lushly romantic. His compositions were clearly influenced by Argentine folk music. His reputation was based almost entirely on his songs, and Guastavino has sometimes been called "the Schubert of the Pampas". Some of his songs, for example Pueblito, mi pueblo, La rosa y el sauce ("The Rose and the Willow") and Se equivocó la paloma ("The Dove Was Wrong"), became national favorites.

Guastavino created beautiful works, generally of short duration and with a very personal harmonic style rooted in the romantic traditions of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Strictly speaking, he can’t be considered an avant-garde composer. However, he used melodic and rhythmic elements of his own inspiration and those derived from the Argentine folk music. He employed these inspirations with unique grace and refinement. (Adapted from Wikipedia)

For more than three decades the works of Roberto Sierra have been part of the repertoire of many of the leading orchestras, ensembles and festivals in the USA and Europe. At the inaugural concert of the 2002 world renowned Proms in London, his Fandangos was performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a concert that was broadcast by both the BBC Radio and Television throughout the UK and Europe.

In 2021 Roberto Sierra was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and in 2017 he was awarded the Tomás Luis de Victoria Prize, the highest honor given in Spain to a composer of Spanish or Latin American origin. In 2010 he was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2003 he was awarded the Academy Award in Music by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The award states: "Roberto Sierra writes brilliant music, mixing fresh and personal melodic lines with sparkling harmonies and striking rhythms. . ."

Roberto Sierra's Music may be heard on CD's by Naxos, EMI, UMG’s EMARCY, New World Records, Albany Records, Koch, New Albion, Koss Classics, BMG, Fleur de Son and other labels. Sierra has been nominated twice for a Grammy under best contemporary composition category, first in 2009 Missa Latina (Naxos), and in 2014 for his Sinfonia No. 4 (Naxos). In addition his Variations on a Souvenir (ALbany) and Trio No. 4 (Centaur) were nominated for Latin Grammys in 2009 and 2015. Roberto Sierra was born in 1953 in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, and studied composition both in Puerto Rico and Europe, where one his teachers was György Ligeti at the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg, Germany. The works of Roberto Sierra are published principally by Subito Music Publishing (ASCAP). (From

Franz Peter Schubert (1797 – 1828) was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Despite his short lifetime, Schubert left behind a vast oeuvre, including more than 600 secular vocal works (mainly lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of piano and chamber music.

Born in the Himmelpfortgrund suburb of Vienna, Schubert showed uncommon gifts for music from an early age. His father gave him his first violin lessons and his elder brother gave him piano lessons, but Schubert soon exceeded their abilities. In 1808, at the age of eleven, he became a pupil at the Stadtkonvikt school, where he became acquainted with the orchestral music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. He left the Stadtkonvikt at the end of 1813, and returned home to live with his father, where he began studying to become a schoolteacher. Despite this, he continued his studies in composition with Antonio Salieri and still composed prolifically. In 1821, Schubert was admitted to the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde as a performing member, which helped establish his name among the Viennese citizenry. He gave a concert of his own works to critical acclaim in March 1828, the only time he did so in his career. He died eight months later at the age of 31, the cause officially attributed to typhoid fever, but believed by some historians to be syphilis.

Appreciation of Schubert's music while he was alive was limited to a relatively small circle of admirers in Vienna, but interest in his work increased greatly in the decades following his death. Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms and other 19th-century composers discovered and championed his works. Today, Schubert is ranked among the greatest composers of Western classical music and his music continues to be popular. (Adapted from Wikipedia)

Guillaume Connesson is currently one of the most widely performed French composers worldwide. Commissions are at the origin of most of his works (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre National de France...) including Pour sortir au jour, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (2013) and Les Trois Cités de Lovecraft (co-commission of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestre National de Lyon). Moreover, his music is regularly played by numerous orchestras (Brussels Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra et al.)

He won a Victoire de la Musique award in 2015 as well as Sacem's Grand Prize in 2012. His discography includes, amongst others, two monographs of chamber music and two symphonic monographs on the Deutsche Grammophon label. The first, Lucifer, obtained a ' Choc' from Classica magazine, and the second, Pour sortir au jour, numerous critical distinctions such as the 'Diapason d'Or de l'Année' as well the Classica 'Choc de l'Année'.

After studies at the Conservatoire National de Région in Boulogne-Billancourt (his birthplace) and the Paris Conservatoire, he obtained premiers prix in choral direction, history of music, analysis, electro-acoustic and orchestration. He has been professor of orchestration at the Aubervilliers-La Courneuve Conservatory since 1997.

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