Clarinetist Andrew Seigel teaches at the State University of New York at Fredonia. An active chamber and orchestral musician, Seigel performs with the Silverwind Duo, the Fredonia Wind Quintet, the Buffalo Chamber Players and the Western NY Chamber Orchestra. Seigel studied as a Fulbright Scholar at Hungary's Franz Liszt Academy of Music. He earneddegrees from Michigan State University and California State University, Fresno. During the summer, he is a faculty artist at the New England Music Camp in Maine.
A native of Seoul, Korea, Dr. Ji Hyun Woo teaches music theory at the State University of New York at Fredonia. She is also an active composer whose music has been performed throughout New York and Asia. She studied at Sook Myung Women’s University in Seoul, and recently completed a Ph.D. degree in theory from the University of Buffalo.
Composer Sy Brandon wrote his Meditation and Festive Celebration for Andrew Seigel and Ji Hyun Woo in 2011. The two works highlight the expressive capabilities of the clarinet and the strength and range of the organ in an unusual combination. While the clarinet sings over the organ throughout most of Meditation, both instruments emanate a quiet intensity through the movement. Not surprisingly, both instruments are much more extraverted in the Festive Celebration. The clarinet conjures its heritage as a woodwind cousin to the trumpet through its many fanfares, and the organ dazzles with its range and resonant power.
Composer Daniel Pinkham wrote about his work Aurora: “The Office of Aurora is an office of praise recited at dawn. It dates from apostolic times and celebrates the bringing of light to a world that has dwelt in darkness.” Written in 2000, the work is in three movements, each including a rising figure, an idée fixe of sorts, which is transformed through the movements. A cheerful march is framed by atmospheric explorations of the central theme in the first movement. The second movement is a tranquil siciliana. An energetic rondo concludes the work in brilliant fashion. Aurora was written for Heinrich Christensen, the organist of King’s Chapel in Boston, who premiered the work there in 2001.
Composer Rob Deemer is the head of the composition area of the School of Music at the State University of New York at Fredonia. His works are performed by leading soloists and ensembles throughout the country. His 2011 composition Smoke is a fantasy of low sounds, based on a 14th century rondeaux by the French composer Solage. In “Fumeux fume par fumee” ("The smoker smokes through smoke"), Solage’s uniquely low melodies amble about chromatically, suggesting a sense of getting lost in a perhaps opium-induced haze. A bass clarinet soliloquy precedes the organ statement of melodic material. As the organ meanders through the pungent harmonic cloud, the bass clarinet floats above in an increasingly active melodic filigree. The work concludes as it began, with the bass clarinet dissipating into silence.
American composer Augusta Read Thomas is perhaps best known for her distinguished tenure as Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony from 1997-2006. She is also a highly regarded teacher, having served on the faculties of the Eastman School of Music and Northwestern University. Angel Tears and Earth Prayers was written for the American Guild of Organists’ national convention in 2006. These two short works are powerful
contemplations, scored with complex harmonies and vivid colors that highlight the myriad timbral combinations available to a concert pipe organ. The splendor of Thomas’ rich organ registrations is juxtaposed against a single melodic voice, a clarinet singing alone, with (or perhaps against?) the magnificent power of the organ.
German organist and composer Josef Rheinberger’s sonatas for organ are described in Grove’s Dictionary as “undoubtedly the most valuable addition to organ music since the time of Mendelssohn.” This transcription of the gentle, melancholy Cantilène from Rheinberger’s Organ Sonata No. 11 (1887) adds color to the organ with a solo clarinet. The added voice brings Rheinberger’s wonderful counterpoint to the fore, and adds an increased lyricism and expressiveness to the already beautiful melody.
Dr. Brandon’s Affirmations was originally composed for double bass and organ in 1989. The composer transcribed the double bass part for bass clarinet for this recording. A slow, meditative opening introduces a reverent dialogue between bass clarinet and organ, but evolves into a brisk allegro where the modal themes in odd meters are presented in a minimalistic manner. A majestic chorale closes the substantial work.
The classic spiritual “Amazing Grace” is perhaps the best-known folksong in American culture. English clergyman John Newton wrote the text in 1773, but it was not joined to the melody we associate it with today until 1835. The hymn has been recorded thousands of times. James Sclater’s treatment of the melody is the result of a commissioned request to “raise the roof” at a funeral. It is dedicated to Fred Meyer, who was a long-time member of the church where Sclater’s wife serves as organist. This setting is extracted from Sclater’s Five Old American Songs.