Mikel Kuehn - Works

Rite of Passage [Hyperresonance V] (2014), for bass clarinet and electroacoustics (Marianne Gythfeldt, bass clarinet):

Rite of Passage (2014) for bass clarinet and live electroacoustics. Performed by Marianne Gythfeldt.

Program Note

Rite of Passage (2014) was composed in 2013-14 and was commissioned by New York-based clarinetist Marianne Gythfeldt. The title is a pun on the material used as the basis for the piece – the famous bass clarinet passage from the opening of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Since discovering the Rite as a teenager, I have been mesmerized and vexed by this particular instrumental excerpt. After over 25 years of marveling at how, in a single passage, Stravinsky almost destroyed the possibility of anyone else ever being able to so elegantly capture the essence of the bass clarinet, I finally decided to embrace my fear of this famous lick and create a piece that celebrates it by constructing every aspect from its structure. Rite of Passage is cast in four main sections, each treats the material in a different manner. The pairing of bass clarinet with live electronics is particularly fitting as the instrument exhibits multifarious qualities that are similar to electroacoustic music (timbre modification, dynamic shaping, etc.). The basic narrative of the work is one where the bass clarinet searches for its identity and its relationship to Stravinsky’s lick. The work closes with a short coda, which finally quotes Stravinsky’s famous passage. 


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