Composed for Maureen Hurd. Premiered by her at Christ and St. Stephen’s Church in NYC on March 10, 2003.
Spelunk was written in Winter, 2003 for the virtuoso clarinetist, Maureen Hurd. It is also an 80th birthday tribute to one of my teachers, Leslie Bassett, whose two clarinet solos are firmly entrenched in the contemporary repertoire, and served as beacons in my exploration of this challenging idiom – the solo woodwind. In Bassettian fashion, Spelunk sprouts from a small pitch collection, the first four notes heard. It proceeds through a series of varying episodes. The transitions from episode to episode are usually by metric modulation, creating a subtle network of tempo relationships to replace the usual function of tonal modulation. I happily espouse a programmatic reading of the piece — that of a cave exploration. In Spelunk, the protagonist makes the tragic error of going it alone, spelunks deeper and deeper into the unknown, nearly becomes lost, and then, through force of will, scurries madly back out of the cave.
Solo B-flat Clarinet