Shades of Violet for Clarinet in B-flat and Viola


Shades of Violet for Clarinet in B-flat and Viola (JB 146) explores the complexities of the color violet throughout history as told by the Clarinet and Viola.



The title for Shades of Violet came about during a phone call with Elizabeth Crawford – clarinet and Katrin Meidell – viola. We were discussing this new work and their ensemble’s name “Violet” and the phrase “shades of violet” was mentioned.  I loved this phrase and knew it would inspire the work, plus pay homage to this new ensemble’s namesake!

When I started to research the color violet I found many interesting facts about this color. It is a “true” color in that it has its own set of wavelengths on the spectrum of visible light – between blue and invisible ultraviolet.  It also has a lot of other meanings throughout history, encompassing spiritually, emotions of love and passion, and physical manifestations of the color.  I wanted to portray these “shades of violet” not just from the color spectrum, but what it has meant to people symbolically.  I made a list of what I found when I researched this color, and many of these words or phrases that inspired me during the creation of this work appear as descriptions of sections in the score:

Union of Body and Soul
Unconditional love
Mental balance and stability
Crown Chakra

In some ways this work is a love story – two instruments seeking passion, inspiration, union, unconditional love.  We reach this union toward the end of the piece, represented through the higher registers of both instruments– a push and pull of harmonies and shades of violet that I think represent the complexities of what the color Violet represents.

It was an honor to write this work for the inaugural season of Violet.  This work was premiered in February 2018 and appears on Violet’s debut album.


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