Weiss Clarinet Concerto 1st mvt [by Matthew Weiss]
If you live in the greater Seattle area, I hope you made it to the World Premiere of this Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra on Sunday Feb 24th 2008 in Seattle's Town Hall by clarinet soloist Jeffrey Brooks.During the course of this project, I made the rather bold (let's leave it at that, shall we? :-) decision to conduct the performance myself, having never conducted a full symphony orchestra performance in the past. This can be evidenced by the set of tails that I'm wearing that don't quite fit, especially the vest which I borrowed from my dear friend and talented conductor, Johan Louwersheimer. Happily, the community orchestra that we assembled out of friends and members of the Octava Chamber Orchestra, the Lake Union Civic Orchestra, the Rainier Symphony, and other Seattle groups, did a fine job on very few rehearsals, despite the huge challenges of working the kinks out of a brand new work, a newbie conductor, and a last movement that had some inherent notational problems that we simply had to live with for lack of time.If that weren't enough strikes against us, our soloist who had been working on the clarinet part for months, became ill and could not play the concert. So at the last minute, Jeff Brooks stepped in and learned the whole thing in 3 days, included his own beautiful cadenzas, rehearsed it for the first time an hour and a half before the show, and gave an absolutely miraculous performance.Bravo to everyone involved!The Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra originally began as a Concerto for Oboe and Chamber Orchestra in Eb major composed in a style akin to Mendelssohn that I began writing back in the mid 90's and then shelved after completing about half of the first movement. Subsequently, I completely forgot about it until coming upon it last winter during the Indian holiday known as Shivarati. For some reason, I was compelled to go through the old material that remained on my computer and decided to listen to a MIDI rendition in order to show my kids some examples of what could be done with the tools that modern composers have available to them. To my surprise, the "sketch" as it were sounded great and I immediately decided to rekindle my interest in classical composition---after a hiatus of over a decade---and finish it.The opening theme in the french horns was screaming for a larger sized orchestra, so I decided to add timpani, two more horns, flutes, and bassoons. Soon, I decided that I wanted a richer sound than the oboe could offer, as well as a greater range, and the opportunity for more virtuosic passage work, so I decided to score it instead for solo clarinet.