The stars like years

clarinet quartet (E♭, 2 B♭, bass)

Composed 2011, duration c.15’00”

Dedicated to the New Zealand Clarinet Quartet.
Comissioned by the New Zealand Clarinet Quartet, with funding from Creative New Zealand.

The stars like years, page 1The stars like years, page 2

Performance by the New Zealand Clarinet Quartet, Wellington, August 2011:

The title is quoted from Nigel Cox’s novel The Cowboy Dog. In the novel, there is a poetic contrast between the constant presence of the landscape, and an elongated sense of time and space, set against the smallness of the concerns of the human characters. The music contains a similar juxtaposition of small detail against a spacious backdrop, and a warping of the listener’s perception of musical time.

The stars like years is dedicated to the New Zealand Clarinet Quartet, and I am especially grateful to the Quartet for their close involvement in the compositional process. There are varying degrees of notational freedom in the score, from very loose rhythmic specification, to sections which are improvised using sets of notated gestural materials. The music derives much of its energy from the tension between spontaneous performance and the written-out structural framework.