Kenneth A. Kuhn

Two Nostalgic Melodies

Both of these exquisitely beautiful melodies have the characteristic of reminding one of pleasant memories – thus the title. Although fragments of the melodies seem familiar I have no clue as to where they came from as these melodies had been haunting my mind for many years and were going to keep doing so until I finally wrote them so they could escape to the world. My original concept was for tenor and piano but having no words I optimized the piece for clarinet because it is especially capable of the desired mood, sonority, and necessary expression. Both melodies are constructed with the same concept of a main melody with subordinate themes and variations. The variations represent different ways of experiencing nostalgia.


For No. 1 there is a brief piano introduction followed by the main theme with clarinet and piano with bittersweet harmony. The piano then plays a brief subordinate theme followed by a variation of the main theme in duet. The piano and clarinet then interact in counterpoint with a tender third theme marked affettuoso. The main theme is then majestically performed followed by a sonorous clarinet ending and brief piano close.


For No. 2 there is a brief piano introduction followed by the main theme with clarinet and piano. A variation of the main theme follows. The middle section marked affettuoso is a beautiful counterpoint between the clarinet and piano. This is followed by yet another variation of the main theme. The piano then builds to a majestic concluding performance of the main theme with clarinet followed by a brief piano closing. — Kenneth A. Kuhn



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Above: Photos from the recording session




Carol Barnett

Shaker Suite: Canterbury

It was 2014, and I was researching an opera project, to be set in the great 19th century Amoskeag textile mills of Manchester, NH, and the Shaker community of Canterbury, some thirty miles to the north. As a preliminary study, I thought of writing several short fantasies based on Shaker hymn tunes. And although I had occasionally enjoyed playing the woodwind quintet literature, I had not yet written one. To remedy that lacuna, I wrote Shaker Suite: Canterbury with my colleagues in the Augsburg College resident woodwind quintet in mind.


A Collection of Hymns and Anthems Adapted to Public Worship, compiled by Henry Clay Blinn and originally published by the Shakers of East Canterbury, NH, in 1892 was an excellent resource. The four hymn tunes I chose are each distinctive in tempo and character, and “The Good Samaritan” has the added attraction of being the only hymn in the entire collection to be set in a minor key.


The march-like melody of “Scenes of Glory” is stated twice at the beginning of the movement by the clarinet and oboe, then broken into fragments, never re-appearing in its original form.


The lilting melody of “Purest Blessing” also appears intact at the beginning of the movement, partially stated by the horn, then taken over by the oboe. The original 6/8 time signature has been stretched to 9/8 to make the tempo flow more easily. After a short development section, the original tune reappears in slightly telescoped form.


“Ministration” is built on the downward scale of the hymn’s first phrase, but the entire melody doesn’t appear until twenty bars from the end, in a simple four-part hymn texture.


After an eight-bar introduction, “The Good Samaritan” melody is heard in the oboe. As with all these settings, the fun begins when the tune is broken up to be tossed back and forth between the instruments, creating interesting textures and contrasting moods. This is another marching tune, and owes the sprightliness of its setting to the influence of Malcolm Arnold’s Sea Shanties for Wind Quintet.


Other stylistic influences include Samuel Barber’s Summer Music, and Irving Fine’s Partita for Wind Quintet as well as his lovely choral suite The Hour-Glass. — Carol Barnett



Herbert A. Deutsch

Iceland Invention

Nancy’s son Daniel and his partner Eric were married in Iceland. At that time, same sex marriage was not legal throughout the USA. Many members of both families flew from both East and West United States for the wedding, spending a long happy weekend with each other and travelling that beautiful nation. — Herbert A. Deutsch



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Above: Photos from the recording session



Philippe Kocher

Projektionen II

One of the main features of Projektionen II is its polyphony. The counterpoint of the four instruments is lively and eloquent, often rather dense or even breathless. Projektionen II is also a piece about the kinetic energy of musical gestures. Sometimes, the energy is distributed amongst the ensemble, as the musicians play their lines independently. Sometimes, it is coordinated, as the musicians play rhythmically coordinated. In any case, it is the driving force that keeps the music moving forwards.

There are not many extramusical influences in my music. Through its structures and gestures, the music should express itself. As compositional tools, I use several rulesets or algorithms to build these musical structures. Even though this approach is quite technical and abstract, I am convinced that music can speak and evoke images and emotions. This action, however, takes place in the listener's perception and imagination; the only thing I can do as a composer is to provide a sufficiently large amount of stimulating musical details.


The two movements of Projektionen II have an almost identical beginning. From this starting point, the music follows each time a different chain of associations. The second movement goes on an even longer journey; the music evolves up to a point where the initial polyphony is abandoned and replaced by repetitive homophonic chords. — Philippe Kocher


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Above: Photos from the recording session



Sarah Wallin-Huff

The Oracle

Written in 2016, “The Oracle” was constructed from a framework of fifty randomly drawn tarot cards, lending the work both an element of chance (in that the process of drawing the cards and their placement in five tarot spreads was random) and an element of “foreordained knowledge” (or pre-compositional structure, based on interpretations of those their cards and their positions). Its distinct aural experience is the culmination of classic aleatorism and modern formula.


Each instrument of the quintet represents an important part of the tarotscape:

- The violin, cello, flute, and clarinet represent the elements of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth (respectively). Each element and its instrumental representative interact with each other in the same way that our own desires, experiences, and moods interact within ourselves.

- The piano represents all the Major Arcana of the deck: the major milestones we encounter in each of our lives. Its octaves are segmented to represent different branches of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life where each card falls. In other words, the closer to the Divine Source a card sits, the higher on the piano its melody lies, and vice versa.


“The Oracle” has thus emerged as a multi-faceted, deeply layered, story-driven reflection of the human condition. It unfolds into an engaging tale of emotion, power, and character that may be interpreted in countless ways, according to the listener’s own personal experience. — Sarah Wallin-Huff


It is the third piece “The Oracle” that is the crème de la for me with its incredible depth and creative complexity. Dynamics take deep hold here with sudden bursts and calming moments. I really hear the room when flute and clarinet parts elevate along with the brilliant staccato keyboard hits. There are moments when time seems to fall apart and then strings back together in a wonderful interplay among the musicians. (Wesley Derbyshire of Hi-Res Edition)


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Above: Photos from the recording session






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