University of Tasmania

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Masterworks 2 - Rising Above: repeat performance of 'Concertino for Clarinet, Cello, Double Bass, and String Orchestra'

posted on 2023-05-25, 09:36 authored by Maria GrenfellMaria Grenfell

Maria Grenfell’s Concertino for Clarinet, Cello, Double Bass, and String Orchestra was commissioned for the Composing Women’s Festival in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1995. The Concertino is a single-movement work that features the soloists in a type of “mini-triple concerto.” The solo parts are rhapsodic, often featuring arpeggiated gestures from low register to high, with rhythmic sections including unmeasured passages, and a cadenza for the trio. Her work is eclectic drawing on many influences from poetic, literary and visual sources and from non-Western music and literature as well. Grenfell was born in Malaysia, but her studies in composition have taken her from New Zealand, to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and the University of Southern California.

As a high school student in Christchurch, New Zealand, Grenfell developed an interest in composition after her music teacher encouraged her to write short pieces for the school musical. She credits her education at USC as the foundation for her career as a composer and educator. “I soaked up a lot of concerts at USC and around Los Angeles, and it was so stimulating and eye-opening to hear amazing performances from all different genres and ensembles,” says Grenfell. “Being from New Zealand, it was a wonderful experience living in Los Angeles, and I tried to get out and about as much as my studies would allow.” She has been commissioned or performed by orchestra throughout Australia and New Zealand, and has had a number of chamber and orchestral pieces recorded on commercial CDs. Her reputation has grown to international acclaim.

The melodies open with angular soaring lines, some dissonant some not so much. Your ear is constantly drawn to the intense flow leading you deeper and deeper into the music. Wait for the buildup, then a cataclysmic collapse of the strings into an eerie dissonant lyricism. The cello and bass play a beautiful duet that is joined by the clarinet. Soothing strings belie the dissonant undertones. The soloists also present a chamber-quality to themselves. Sudden rolls of consonance flow through leading to light lively dancelike, rapid articulations that wind up to a sudden ending.





School of Creative Arts and Media


North State Symphony Orchestra

Event Venue

Laxson Auditorium, Chico, CA, United States

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