Nightsongs (Clarinet Quintet – Clar. & String Quartet)

Clarinet and String Quartet (2007), One Movement, 9’
Premiered by The Griffin Ensemble at Liepāja Symphony Concert Hall, May 2007.

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Here’s a video with Uldis Lipskis (clarinet), Baiba Lasmane, Ginta Alžane (violins), Tatjana Borovika (Viola) and Dina Puķite (Cello), from their performance with my ensemble at Rigas Jaunais Teatris on June 18, 2007 in Riga, Latvia:

Program Note:

This piece was originally a setting for baritone and string quartet of five short poems by the American poet, Langston Hughes, in one continuous movement. The majority of the piece is based on various transformations of a three-note, bluesy figure. I rearranged and also revised the set in late 2006 in preparation for a five-concert tour in Latvia with my ensemble in May and June 2007. Here are the original poems, in the order of their original appearance:

Night: Four Songs
Night of the two moons
And the seventeen stars,
Night of the day before yesterday
And the day after tomorrow,
Night of the four songs unsung:
Sorrow! Sorrow!
Sorrow! Sorrow!

Border Line
I used to wonder
About living and dying –
I think the difference lies
Between tears and crying.

I used to wonder
About here and there –
I think the distance
Is nowhere.

Drum
Bear in mind
That death is a drum
Beating forever
Till the last worms come
To answer its call,
Till the last stars fall,
Until the last atom
Is no atom at all,
Until time is lost
And there is no air
And space itself
Is nothing nowhere,
Death is a drum
A signal drum,
Calling life
To come!
Come!
Come!

Suicide’s Note
The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.

End
There are
No clocks on the wall,
And no time,
No shadows that move
From dawn to dusk
Across the floor.

There is neither light
Nor dark
Outside the door.

There is no door!

Posted in Chamber, Music, Strings, Winds

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Quick Bio

CBG2_WPRKOriginally from New York, Charles Griffin returned to the U.S. in 2010 to take a position at Florida's Full Sail University as course director of Advanced Music Composition in their MPBS program, after spending 5 years living and working in Latvia. His compositions and arrangements have been performed at festivals and concert halls throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, Brazil, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.

He is also a radio show host on 91.5 WPRK FM. His show Zero Crossings incorporates live interviews with composers, conductors and performers with a focus on the local contemporary art music scene.

Read more in the biography section.