SOLO - Voices (1997)

Bb cl solo; picc, 2 fl, 2 ob, e hn, 2 cl (Eb, Bs, A), a sax, 2 bsn, cbsn; 4 hn, 3 tpt, 3 tbn, tba; pno, hp, el gtr, el bs, timp, 4 perc; strings

Derek Bermel’s Voices, a concerto for clarinet, with the composer playing the solo part brilliantly, was fun, music with brash humor, clever scoring, evocations of elegiac Irish bagpipes in the slow movement, and Led Zeppelin in the finale.
Derek Bermel’s Voices, a concerto for clarinet and orchestra, is a crowd-pleaser that is likely to enter the repertory of every orchestra that had a representative in the audience. Part of the appeal lies in the virtuosity and charisma of the composer, who was soloist. There doesn’t seem to be anything Bermel can’t do with the clarinet; but the appeal also lies in the music, which adds dimensions of wit and intelligence to melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic elements of immediate popular appeal. This is the kind of piece that makes your day.
Voices, an elaborate clarinet concerto mixing free jazz, Irish folk melody and funk. In the hands of a composer less assured, all that globe-trotting would seem like affectation; Bermel makes it an artistic imperative.

Derek Bermel performing "Voices" at the Beijing Modern Music Festival

Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis