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Concertino: From Darkness to Light

for clarinet solo and symphonic orchestra 

DATE: 2011, revised 2015 
COMPOSER: Ofer Ben-Amots 

TOTAL DURATION: ca. 23 min. 

FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT, for clarinet, mandolin, and chamber orchestra is a re-orchestration of my Concertino. The composition for clarinet, mandolin and orchestra was originally commissioned by the Geneva Chamber Orchestra in 2011, and was premiered by the same orchestra in Geneva, Switzerland in January 2012. When I was invited to participate in the "Journey of the Human Spirit" project, I offered to re-work my Concertino and collaborate with choreographer Garrett Ammon and the Ballet Nouveau Colorado on a new dance & music creation. The new work intended to complement Viktor Ullmann’s dark and farcical opera “The Emperor of Atlantis,” and enable the audience to travel emotionally from Ulmann's Holocaust-era dark sounds into a brighter, more hopeful sound of the cheerful Klezmer music. 

The composition explores the sound combination of two, seemingly opposing, instruments and sound characters: the clarinet and the mandolin. Thus, the three-movement work is a short double-concerto for clarinet and mandolin, accompanied by a chamber orchestra. The first movement, titled “Heaven and Earth, Allegro energico” and is a mixture of a coronation fanfare and a wild improvisatory-like dance. It is based on the poetic format and content of Psalm 148. The second movement, “The Forgotten Melody” is a slow, lyrical, dirge-like melody in a Sephardic Judeo-spanish style. In this movement the mandolin plays in the manner of an Oud – a traditional pear-shaped Arabic lute. The harmony sits mostly on a single pedal note while the clarinet imitates the chant with rhythmically free ornatmental patterns. The third and final movement, “Bulgar, Allegro con brio,” is a festive klezmer dance with a traditional Bulgar (or Freylech) rhythm, where the regular 8/8 meter is constantly divided into the irregular count of 3+3+2. In the middle of this movement the two soloists play a cadenza, which allows them to present their virtuosity in a contrasting yet complementary instrumental characters.  

       – Solo mandolin 

       – Solo clarinet in B-flat 

Tenor Sax 
Trumpet 1 & 2 in C 
French Horns 1 & 2 in F 
Percussion 1 & 2 
Violin I 
Violin II 
Double Bass