Thursday, February 12th: I absolutely love the works of Ian Clarke and decided to learn another one of his newer pieces today, Beverley for solo flute (2011). His music is a really exciting edition to the flute repertoire and is embraced by flutists all over the world. The score reads, “Beverley is a simple melodic plaintive lament. This was composed in the first half of 2011 and first performed by Ian at the Woldingham and Scottish international summer schools in that year. It was also performed at the Las Vegas 2012 NFA convention and the BFS 2012 convention in Manchester, UK.”
One element that makes Ian’s music stand out from other compositions is the use of extended techniques, such as circular breathing, singing and playing, harmonic fingerings, pitch bending, glissandos, etc. In this particular piece, Clarke uses diamond note-heads to indicate the use of a given alternate fingering and contrasting expressive color. In some cases where the fingering shows an open-hole the ring of the key is depressed with the hole completely open. The notation also includes half holes where the hole is partially uncovered in order to create the desired effect. The challenge for the performance is to internalize each alternate fingering and integrate them seamlessly into the melodic line. Beverley is so hauntingly beautiful, and I definitely plan to incorporate it in a future program.
Friday, February 13th: Ian Clarke’s, Spiral Lament for flute and piano (2003) was commissioned by Hannah Money. In the score Clarke writes, “Hannah Money asked me several years ago to compose a piece for her giant African snails! I have to admit to being not a little perplexed. Sometime later I met one of these incredible creatures and had a long close look…an unforgettable moment! It was like looking through a window into a strange and wondrous alien world. For me, this experience made more potent the wonder of the natural world we live in. I also have young children who constantly marvel and delight in creatures of all sorts. They often overcome initial feelings of fear in order to pick up and befriend something to which an adult may not give a second thought – the occasional snail gets the better of their curiosity and is taken under their wing. Grown-ups are frequently forced to give the world of small animals, with strange and varied methods of locomotion, a second thought. Beyond fear there is fascination, discovery and a different space. I found all of this rather exotic, inspiring and quite profound. This was now something I wanted to express. Hannah had asked that I make the piece playable and approachable for an intermediate and advanced flautists so I hope it will be an achievable and fun challenge for all.” Like most of Ian’s pieces, Spiral Lament incorporates alternate fingerings, as well as timbral trills that give a shimmering effect to the music. While sight-reading the piece, I noticed it will take much longer to internalize all of the marking in this work in comparison to the last two pieces I learned.
Here’s a picture of Ian Clarke and me during his visit to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln!