Spark for E-flat Clarinet,
B-flat Clarinet and Piano
World Premiere during 2023 ClarinetFest in Denver, Colorado
Amicitia Duo: Diane Barger and Denise Gainey
Commissioned by the International Clarinet Association to honor Denise Gainey as outgoing ICA President.
Duration approximately 9:30
SPARK – single movement with three sections:
I. The light of friendship
III. The Great Balm
SPARK for E-flat clarinet, B-flat Clarinet, and Piano tells of the journey of friendship, from a spark of light in the dark to the fire of lifelong friendship and collaboration in an ever-changing world. Commissioned by the International Clarinet Association to honor Denise Gainey as outgoing ICA president in the summer of 2022 and presented to her during Clarinetfest® in Reno, Nevada, the work explores the kind of friendship that connects souls and makes someone your sister despite not being related.
Denise is a part of the Amicitia Duo along with Diane Barger, and their friendship was a huge inspiration in creating this work. In Denise’s amazing blog The View from Here she writes about friendship in a way that feels relatable to everyone, and these words helped guide the story in this work:
Love and friendship are truly the greatest gifts to ever give or receive. There is a special magic to them that sustains us, encourages us, and make us better human beings…The light of friendship brings connection and understanding, canceling out divisiveness and anger…It all boils down to love, the great balm of the world.
“The Gift of Amicitia” – from The View from Here blog
In conversation with Diane of Amicitia about Denise, she spoke of the “spark” of friendship and the idea that someone could be a touchstone in a relationship. I love the imagery of both a spark that grows to a fire – a spark of friendship, of creativity, or collaboration becomes something epic and beautiful, and yet in the middle of all that energy is a steady place to connect, to touch, and to find center and grounding. In David Whyte’s book Consolations he says that “the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement….the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the of the essence of another...” These words, along with Denise’s writing, give a beautiful roadmap to what friendship can be, and if we are lucky enough to find it in our lives, then we have truly received the greatest gift.
It is an honor to write this work to celebrate Denise’s work not only with ICA, but to celebrate her steadfast loyalty to making music, creating collaborations, and growing lifelong friendships.