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Premiere: Chris Ramaekers, conductor, 2007
Duration: seven minutes
Instrumentation: L’histoire ensemble
Throughout much of the composition of this piece, my thoughts were focused on making use of many moving lines, especially in background texture. This idea seemed to suggest some sort of body of water, whose currents were moving about in a rather gentle way. This brought me back to my childhood summers, when I would go canoing on the AuSable River in Grayling, Michigan. The AuSable River has these very serene, mild currents that I imagined as I listened to the moving lines of this piece.
The piece has many moments that reflect the serenity of this river, which is calm and shallow. It begins with a very simple, tuneful motive in the clarinet that begins to weave itself throughout the ensemble. As the piece moves on, subtle background materials begin to develop into their own separate musical currents. There are the occasional moments of tension in this piece, because sometimes even a shallow river can seem treacherous to a little kid. However the overall character of the piece reflects a rather calm, summer canoe ride.
DOWN THE AUSABLE was commissioned for the New Music Project 2007 at Western Michigan University, for which five composers, each from a different Michigan university, were selected to compose a new work for Stravinsky’s L’Histoire ensemble. It received its premiere on April 2nd, 2007.