liveoak (2019-20)

Program Notes

Live oaks are a species of evergreen oak trees that grow throughout the world, and are primarily found in the Southern parts of the United States. These trees live for hundreds of years, and sometimes reach over a thousand-years old, producing massive, sprawling limbs.

liveoak is a work for solo clarinet that is about transience: evolving from one state of nature to another, on both micro and macro levels. As the title suggests, the piece is also meant to reflect the general shape of a tree from top to bottom. For example, the slow, longtone-based introduction, with sliding tones and quarter-tone pitches, is meant to represent the roots of a tree, buried under the earth. As the piece goes on, the pitch rises, and there is added clarity to the clarinet tone. Various melodic lines mirror the curving branches of a live oak, and delicate tremolos represent leaves of the tree.

Changes occur generally over the course of the entire piece (I see the piece as one continuous movement from beginning to end), but also note to note and line by line. While musical material isn’t overtly repeated between sections, small gestures are intended to duplicate themselves into larger structures in a fractal-like way.

liveoak is a piece that fits into a larger body of my work inspired by the natural world, and also Wabi-Sabi, a Japanese worldview that values transience, impermanence, and imperfection. It is the result of a commissioning consortium of 51 clarinetists and supporters, led by commissioner Alexander W. Ravitz.