Opus 999

Shadowbook (Three Songs in the Night) (2013)

for Clarinet, Tuba, Piano

  • The Bearer of Bad News
  • A Desperate Peace
  • Towards Morning

Duration: 15 min.

Dedication: for Kevin and Susan Wass

Commission: Commissioned by Kevin and Susan Wass

Publisher: Musik Fabrik

Performance materials available from the publisher.

Shadowbook (Three Songs in the Night) (2013) for clarinet, tuba, and piano was commissioned by and is dedicated to Kevin and Susan Wass. As the title implies, it is music that possesses a certain “dark energy.” It evokes not so much a night of tranquility, but rather one of great intensity. The titles of the movements are poetic, not programmatic—each intends to give a sense of the mood that pervades the music.

The Bearer of Bad News begins obsessively with re-iterations of a unison pitch. The movement unfolds lyrically outwards from this texture, finally reaching a climax in an intense return of the re-iterations, before a coda brings the energy back down.

A Desperate Peace draws from the spirit of “fierce lament.”It evokes a line from Tecumseh of the Shawnee American Indian tribe: “When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.” 

In Towards Morning an obsessive rhythmic pulse pushes the music forwards towards the coming day. The night’s dark energy, however, is not soon forgotten.