Anna Weesner

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Eight Lost Songs of Orlando Underground – Scored for Clarinet and Strings

World Premiere

With Guest Artist Todd Palmer

From the Composer

Orlando Underground is the thinly veiled pseudonym of a blues guitarist (and eponymous member of the well-known band) who harbored a longstanding interest in notated composition. Orlando always wondered what life might have been like if he hadn’t joined the band, and hadn’t stayed in the band all those years, instead nurturing his other musical interests.
(Would things have turned out differently with Jess? This question plagued him particularly.)

Orlando never told anyone about how in college he’d discovered and fallen in wild love with classical music. Those afternoons lying on the floor with a cup of black tea and Mahler. He was fascinated by the sensation of order in certain pieces of music, the feeling that microscopic patterns in his own skin came to the surface by way of organized sound. He liked the idea of retrograde, that a thing moving backwards might be both recognizable and new. There was much more to backwards than Paul on Sgt. Pepper, if you allowed for abstraction in meaning, and some composers seemed to understand this. He held a fondness for certain numbers; five, especially, was downright mythical. The five-syllable phrase how you broke my heart had followed Orlando for a seeming decade after Jess left, a relentless, five-pulse mantra that finally—in some kind of involuntary comedy—found new refrains, other words for the pulses; why won’t she come back becoming where’d I put my keys, or, please turn out the light. Jess had teased him mercilessly for carrying around and reading Arnold Schoenberg’s Style and Idea, but she never told the guys in the band.

Jess is the one who found the Eight Lost Songs in a desk drawer after Orlando died.

Note on instrumentation:

Jess believes that Orlando Underground chose to write for clarinet quintet in part because of Maya Ochoa, a rather beautiful clarinetist who lived on the fifth floor of his building in Brooklyn whom he saw often in the elevator and to whom he never spoke.

  1. Beginning
  2. If only
  3. What moves you, Arnold?
  4. Dance with me, Jess
  5. Folksong
  6. Mantra Music
  7. Timing is everything (blues)
  8. Heard it all before and yet somehow

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Todd Palmer

Clarinetist Todd Palmer