Jay Sydeman and a World Premiere

sydemanLast week, we performed another world premiere quintet—Jay Sydeman’s “For Clarinet and String Quartet.” For those who aren’t familiar with Jay, he’s been described as “one of America’s most prolific and inventive composers.” He was on the composition faculty at Manhattan’s Mannes School of Music and received commissions from such prestigious groups as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Tanglewood Music Center, and the Boston Symphony, which premiered his orchestral work in memory of John F. Kennedy in 1966. The New York Times commented that “imagination and fantasy, allied with a contemporary musical vocabulary and a solid sense of structure, make Mr. Sydeman’s works unusually fascinating.” In 1962, Time Magazine stated that “composer Sydeman… has a flair for arresting ideas that stamp him as one of the most talented of U.S. newcomers.” Even though he has composed well over 400 works, Jay had never written a clarinet quintet until this one in 2012. It’s a three-movement piece that is classical in form, dance-like, whimsical, fugue-like, and in his own words, “a rush of good fun.”  For whatever reason, it had never been performed until we got a hold of it last month. Jay is now 86 years old, lives in Mendocino, CA, and is still composing. Learn more about him and his music by visiting his website. And check out the live video of us premiering his work below.

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