Year Composed: 2009
Instrumentation: bass clarinet, piano
Duration 26 minutes

I Lament / Dance of Shadows
II Bridges

Audio Excerpts (MP3)

Program Notes

Rebirth was conceived initially as an archetypal journey from darkness to light, in which the bass clarinet is the narrative’s central figure and the piano becomes an orchestral force of nature. Originally composed of three independent movements (fast-slow-fast), I decided to excise the final movement in favour of a structure closer in spirit to Beethoven’s two-movement forms—in particular his last piano sonata, Op. 111, in which a turbulent, ‘worldly’ first movement is followed by a transcendent second.

The introductory “Lament” opens with a brooding melody in the lowest registers of the bass clarinet, which grows increasingly agitated until, blinded by despair, it utters an inhuman cry. This is followed by “Dance of Shadows,” a tightly coiled allegro which attempts to purge its own demons through aggression. Rebirth was originally commissioned in 2009 by Julia Stroud, whose subsequent travels to Barcelona may have been an unconscious source of inspiration for the movement’s dance-like material.

The title of the second movement, “Bridges,” refers both to the structural transitions within the movement, which serve to connect two very different musical ‘planes,’ as well as the metaphysical bridges which allow us to move between psychological states, ie. from sadness to joy. Initially, both instruments engage in a spacious, two-part dialogue. A dreamy piano interlude sweeps us away into a middle section drawn, improbably, from the language of pop, jazz, and rock, symbolizing (at least in this instance) a state of psychological elevation. A second bridge brings us back to the movement’s original material, and the movement concludes on a note of tranquility.


  • February 15, 2009 - Julia Stroud, bass clarinet; Katherine Dowling, piano. Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building, Faculty of Music, Toronto.
  • April 17, 2009 - Julia Stroud, bass clarinet; John Kruspe, piano. Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building, Faculty of Music, Toronto.
  • November 25, 2010 - Peter Stoll, bass clarinet; Angela Park, piano. Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building, Faculty of Music, Toronto.

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