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35 - Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts

University of Chichester

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Title and brief description

Première of new work for clarinet and piano, ‘Tarantella’ (2008) and recording (2011)

J - Composition
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AS was commissioned to compose ‘Tarantella’ by the Ebony Duo with funds from Arts Council Scotland and the Hope Scott Trust. The première took place at Napier University in February 2008 and was followed by a series of workshops and performances in Scottish schools and colleges. The brief was to write a piece to a theme of ‘The Natural World’, so the piece explores the barbaric myth surrounding the tarantella, which should be danced by a victim of a deadly tarantula bite. Taking his lead from ethnomusicological studies such as those by Bruno Nettl and others, alongside post-modern theories, AS also seeks to debunk the cultural export of these dances (and their myths) for western audiences. In a similar way to Ravel’s gradually dismantling of the waltz in his orchestral piece ‘La Valse’, AS injects musical poison into a stylised Victorian dance in the form of polytonality and extended instrumental techniques, developed in consultation with professional clarinettists Robert Blanken, Ruth Partington and Natalie Daly. In the 2011 recording AS performs the piano part alongside Stephen Dummer on clarinet. The challenge for the recording engineer, Samuel Oyediji, was to carefully balance the dynamic levels of the clarinet and piano as the latter gradually subsumes the former in a cascade of tone clusters at the end of the work. The piece has been subsequently been performed at venues including Portsmouth Festival, University of Chichester, Adur Festival and St Luke’s Concert Series.

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English abstract