Jenni Brandon’s Music Performed at Woodwind Fest 2020 by Carrie RavenStem

Carrie RavenStem performs three of Jenni Brandon’s compositions at the online Woodwind Fest 2020.  Carrie’s online performance is on Sunday, October 18, 2020, at 2pm EST. Woodwind Fest 2020, October 14 – 18, 2020, is the world’s first online music trade show ( The physical location of Woodwind Fest 2020 is 670 Bergen Blvd. Ridgefield, NJ 07657, +1 201 488 7770.

Carrie’s recital program is:

Stardust for Solo Eb Clarinet

Chansons de la Nature pour la Clarinette

Cumulonimbus: The King of Clouds for clarinet and piano

Total Duration: 33 minutes

Kara Huber is the piano accompanist.

Stardust for Solo Eb Clarinet — , commissioned by clarinetist Elizabeth Crawford in 2014, explores the lyrical and jazzy abilities of this instrument, turning to popular songs of the 20’s and 30’s as inspiration. I grew up playing and singing much of this repertoire at the piano, I learned a lot about writing melody from this incredible era of songwriting. Each movement of this work plays with these popular themes, sometimes using an interval, a few notes, or a line from within the work as inspiration, allowing the E-Flat clarinet to shine by playing with range, color, and extended techniques. I also liked the idea of linking pieces together that spoke of stars and the moon – a popular theme of this era!

A Love of My Own – Inspired by “Blue Moon” by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, 1934. The title comes from a line within the work, and the melodic material comes from the opening “Blue Moon, you saw me standing alone…”

Into the Blue Sky – inspired by “Blue Skies” by Irving Berlin, 1926. The smooth, flowing line in this movement comes from the opening melodic line of the song “Blue skies, smiling at me”. The movement flies higher and higher “into the blue sky” until we fly too close to the sun (like Icarus) and fall from great heights.

A Paper Moon – Inspired by “It’s Only a Paper Moon” by Harold Arlen, 1933. The opening of Arlen’s song begins with an octave leap, and this becomes a prominent motive throughout. The timbral trills create a shimmering light of the moon, and listen for direct snippets of Arlen’s song, from the descending lines, to the swing section in the middle of the piece.

A Stardust Melody – Inspired by Hoagy Carmichael’s song Stardust, 1927, with lyrics added in 1929 by Mitchell Parish. Carmichael wrote this song while a student at Indiana University in Bloomington. The clarinet work explores the melodic line “Love is now the stardust of yesterday” in the opening, and mixes in swing-style rhythms as a homage to the works of this era

Stardust for solo E-flat clarinet now appears on the CD INSTANT WINNERS – Albany Records, recorded by Elizabeth Crawford

Chansons de la Nature pour la Clarinette — tells a story about nature as told by the clarinet’s agile voice. The French titles and basis of the pieces were inspired by the lyrical and pastoral quality of the French language and the images it invokes. The piece is also inspired by the images presented in Aesop’s fables (and Jean de la Fontain’s retelling of them); in particular, the movement “Le Lièvre et la Tortue” tells of the slow tortoise beating the fast hare with his patience and determination. Both creatures are represented in this movement, from the plodding of the tortoise to the quick movements of the hare.

The other movements also represent a variety of characters and situations from these famous fables. “Le Poisson” darts, “Le Papillon” flutters and floats, “L’étoile” shimmers in the night sky, nature ‘dances’, and “Le Serpent” is slippery and quick. Each movement is short, but just long enough to evoke a story and create a ‘song of nature’ for the clarinet.

I Les Oiseaux

II Le Poisson

III Le Papillon

IV Le Lièvre et La Tortue

V L’Etoile

VI Dansez!

VII. Le Serpent


Cumulonimbus: The King of Clouds for clarinet and pianoThe inspiration for this piece comes from a wonderful book titled The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds by Gavin Pretor-Pinney. In this book he describes all types of clouds, from the Stratus all the way up to the Cirrocumulus cloud. I particularly loved his chapter on the Cumulonimbus cloud and the description of the destruction and havoc that this cloud can make. I thought it would be exciting to write a work that represented this cloud and its fury.

The piece begins ominously as a storm approaches and then moves into crashing clusters and the fast fury that a storm like this can bring. The clarinet leaps like hail and lightning, and the piano boldly grows bigger as the storm rages. I try to tell the story of this cloud much in the way that the book describes the cloud, including that “…it can lead to untold loss of life and damage to property. It has also been known to frighten little children with its thunder”.

I had the pleasure to write this work for Marianne Breneman and Philip Amalong of Conundrum, a Cincinnati-based new music ensemble. They premiered the work in Los Angeles on November 12, 2011 at Occidental College during a Synchromy concert.