Fragile Fanfares: The Woodcarvers’ Legacy is by far the most unique commission I have ever received. Beatrice and Douglas Broadwater commissioned it to accompany an astonishing woodcarving which they owned by their friend, the brilliant carver David Esterly. The new work was premiered at a special concert in the Broadwaters’ New York home honoring Esterly’s life and work. The carving, which can be seen HERE, includes a clarinet, violin, cymbal, and baroque trumpet, as well as the sheet music to both Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and a set of trio sonatas by Henry Purcell. In response to the carving, in addition to my new piece, the concert included the Purcell sonata depicted in the carving, and a movement of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet. My composition was to be a sort of fanfare to open the concert. For its instrumentation, I used the instruments depicted in the carving, with the baroque trumpet player doubling on suspended cymbal, and with the violin expanded out to an entire string quartet. I opted to use an actual valveless baroque trumpet, and the piece took shape around the idiosyncrasies and limitations of this unique instrument. In researching for the piece, I read several articles about Esterly, as well as his own memoir, and became deeply immersed in and fascinated by this meticulous, physically arduous, obsessively detailed art form. The title Fragile Fanfares evokes the martial, yet delicate quality of the baroque trumpet, as well as of the act of woodcarving itself, in which a solid, hard material is molded to depict extremely delicate shapes – in turn becoming quite delicate itself. The piece was premiered on February 3rd, 2019, at the Broadwaters’ New York home, with David Esterly and his family in attendance.
Bb clarinet, baroque trumpet in D (doubling on suspended cymbal), string quartet
Beatrice and Douglas Broadwater
on February 3, 2019