LARGE CHAMBER ENSEMBLE - Dragon Blue Program Note
Several years ago, I performed my clarinet concerto at the Beijing New Music Festival, and was struck by how the orchestral musicians found their way into bluesy inflections through invoking the emotional terrain of Peking Opera. I get inspired by such unexpected intersections Chinese traditional music and the blues. Most notably, both utilize the pentatonic scale melodically and both employ slides (glissandi) to build and release tension. I sketched some clarinet licks that might just as easily be played by an erhu, invoking the Slow Drag, which, like other early blues dances (the Mooche, Squat, Funky Butt, Snake Hips, Gut Stomp, Mule Walk, and Fish Tail), originated in the American South. Three days before the 2012 Chinese New Year, the singer Etta James passed away, and "Dragon Blue" was born in her wake.