"F. Gerard Gerry
Errante, is an active composer, teacher and instrumentalist of extraordinary
technique, fluency and boldness. All of the selections in Ancient
Dreams involve computer processing of some sort. Combined with his
propensity o collect exotic instruments throughout his travels,
it led to the 10-minute long album-title work. Beside the clarinet,
he plays a Zimbabwean mbira, an Australian didgeridu, a Japanese shakuhachi and a Thai khlur. Using computer
sampling, he was able to layer and dissolve all of these timbres
to produce the effect of an ancient ritual, primeval in spirit and
evocative in its simplicity of design and scale. The one quibble
we have is with Peter Cosmos recording which is to us grossly out
of balance, though perhaps partly intended that way by the composer
for contrasts sake.
Charles Bestors Conversations with Myself is another of those
duos between an instrumentalist and his alter ego, shadow, echo
however you choose to see it triggered by computer processing. The
conversations here are about Max (jazz composer-drummer Roach),
about Her (an elusive figure), about Midnight (Theloneous Monk),
and about Hildegard (von Bingen, of course) and about Time (a summation).
The conception and the technique are both interesting and even alluring,
but we find the material a bit disappointing, unable to sustain
Robert Scott Thompson is also obsessed with shadows, as in his Canto
(de las Sombras) (1996), a melding of clarinet materials and
electro-acoustic transformation. The latter component was fashioned
via a state-of-the-art digital audio workstation synthesized through
software, signal processing and algorhythmic composition. The Spanish
title perhaps relates to the content wherein one can discern unmistakable
Latin American rhythms treated in a fresh and engaging way.
Todd Winklers Snake Charmer (1992) exploits elements of live
computer0performer interaction and therefore some indeterminacy.
If this performance is typical of what he expects, then it successfully
suggests a work of wit and inventiveness, though the title need
not be taken too literally.
Douglas Quins Yasashii Kaze is yet another example of the
enticing new high-tech music processes composers and performers
can use as a means of express certain interests. Mr. Quin evidently
is a nature lover and has found a novel way to create an environmental
sound palette minimizing the danger of artificiality, though a certain
degree of forethought can never be avoided. Using a pitch-to-MIDI
converter and a synth, Errante triggers a variety of electronic
sound palettes, five all told. For example, the final piece is a
montage of frogs and insects against a running stream in the upland
rainforest of Ranomatana in Madagascar.
Michael Lowensterns five-minute Milk Teeth involves one of
his favorite media combos the bass clarinet (often mournful in tone)
set against a backdrop of taped voices, in this case, TV commercials.
One of them sounds like a phone sex conversation you see/hear on
cable. The intended idea, an extramusical one, grew, he says, out
of the notion that as soon as a baby gets these teeth, he or she
is beginning to be bombarded by media commercials suggesting what
it should use those teeth for.
Gerry Errante, by inviting Lowenstern to write for him, clearly
characterizes the new breed of musicians who believe in relegating
the competitive posture to past history. Lowenstern is, himself,
a virtuoso of the bass clarinet and plays his own works like nobodys
business, so his writing such a work for Errante displays an obvious
regard for the latters eminence. All of the works on this disc were,
in fact, written especially for Errante who has, in the past, invited
other clarinetists to share the stage and the CD studio with him,
a sign that there really is a United States of Clarinetists. Overall,
a daring and interesting album."
NACWPI Journal - Summer, 1998
"F. Gerard Errante
is a composer/clarinetist of international acclaim. He has recorded
for the CRI label, Telarc, Mark Recordings, AIR Records (Japan),
Apollo Records (The Netherlands), Tall Poppies (Australia) and for
national radio stations around the world. He is Professor of Music
at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia and immediate past
president of the International clarinet Association.
This review is a joy for me to write. Dr. Errante has been, in many
was, a role model for me. As a young performer, I was in awe of
the many new sounds he produced with the clarinet. His music opened
doors for me that I never knew existed Dr Errante's work with computer
controlled interactive electronics takes these sounds to a new level.
There are six pieces on this new disk, Shadows of Ancient Dreams: Shadows of Ancient Dreams, F. Gerard Errante. Conversations
with Myself, Charles Bestor. Canto (de Las Sombras),
Robert Scott Thompson. Snake Charmer, Todd Winkler. Yasashii
Kaze, Douglas Quin and Milk Teeth, Michael Lowenstern.
Errante states that in Shadows of Ancient Dreams, he
combines, digital technology with a variety of exotic instruments
that I have collected in my travel throughout the years. These instruments
include a mbira from Zimbabwe, a didjeridu from Australia and a shakuhachi from Japan, as well as the clarinet. These are
played into a digital effects processor which delays and repeats
the sounds. The effects are tremendous.
Conversations with Myself, was written for the performer. The
piece uses an interactive computer program that creates a work which
is literally a conversation between the performers, live
and electronic. Each performer, the computer and the clarinetist,
react to each other in an evolving dialogue. The five movements,
according to the composer, "are each a reference to a conversation
about a specific historical composer, ranging from the 12th century
abbess, Hildegarde of Bingen, to the contemporary Max Roach, Thelonius
Monk, and the elusive Her. The effect is an improvisatory piece,
different in each performance, and for each performer.
Canto (de Las Sombras), was also written for Errante in 1996.
According to the composer, The three movements of Snake Charmer are each designed to explore a different area of technology for
interactive composition. The computer accompaniment is always a
result of how and what the clarinetist is playing and consequently
no two performances are alike. I have had the pleasure of hearing
this piece four times live as this recording and can attest to that
fact! I have heard Dr. Errante perform the piece as well as two
of my Doctoral students. The effect is amazing, and the recording
brings out all of the unique sounds found in the live performance.
This is especially true when listening to the disc with headphones.
The stereo effect is stunning.
Yasashii Kaze was premiered by Errante at ClarFest 93 in
Ghent, Belgium. The performer uses a pitch-to-Midi converter and
a synthesizer which triggers a variety of sound palettes with the
synthesizer that are set against wildlife recordings. These include
the sounds of bats, insects, frogs and water from the semiarid desert
region of Samburu, Kenya, and Madagascar Scops Owls from the spiney
desert region near Berenty at the southern end of Madagascar.
Mild Teeth, was again written for Errante. The title refers
to another term for baby teeth. According to the composer, bass
clarinet virtuoso, Michael Lowenstern, this term serves as a compositional
, as soon as a baby gets these teeth, he or she is beginning
to be bombarded by media commercials suggesting what it should use
those teeth for (literally and figuratively). Television commercials
were used as the basis for the semantic content of the piece, and
clarinet samples for the remainder of the sound material. No synthesized
sounds were used, however some of the clarinet sounds have been
I especially recommend this recording to those who have not yet
experienced the wonderful sounds that can be achieved when using
interactive electronics. For those of us who have lived in the era
of taped electronic accompaniments living with timing problems in
every performance the ability to vary timing, and have timings affect
the overall performance of the work create a whole new palate on
which we can create music. I very highly recommend this disc!"
Century Music - March, 1998 - by Mark Alburger
"It's safe to say
that you've never heard clarinet the way clarinetist F. Gerard Errante
performs in "Shadows of Ancient Dreams," his sole original
composition from a like-named album from Capstone. That's because
he doesn't play much clarinet, but instead mbira from Zimbabwe,
didgeridoo from Australia, shakuhachi from Japan, and khlu from
Thailand. But what he gets in the end, with the help of digital
effects processing is equally resonant as Balinese gamelan, Tibetan
chant, and massed ocarinas -- a wonderful exercise!, if a little
"do this and then do that" as well.
Pcrhaps there's something inevitably lonely and solipsistic about
"Conversations with Myself," by Charles Bestor, but at
least the composer branches out "about Max [Roach, not Mathews],"
"about Her," "about Midnight [i.e. Thelonius Monk]."
"about Hildegard [von Bingen.. who else?]," and "about
Time" [the 1960's sit-com??)]. It's about time, with selections
enriched by strong electronic rhythms, somber clarinet swing, Gershwin
smears, and new age sparkle.
Robert Scott Thompson's "Canto (de Las Sombras)" is an
echoic assemblage of multiple clarinets and the mysterious musique
concrète atmosphere of Varèse's " Poème
electronique," related to the rhythmic sassiness and lonely
messiaenisms of Todd Winkler's "Snake Charmer," via shared
And speaking of Messiaen, Douglas Quin joins Ann LeBaron in another
approach to the wonders of nature with his "Yasahii Kaze,"
five studies for birds and bees and frogs collected from Samburu
(Kenya), the Sierra Nevada (California), the Atlantic rainforest
of Caratinga (Brazil). the spiney desert near Berenty [!] (southern
Madagascar), and the mountain rainforest of Ranomafana (eastern
Madagascar). To this of course is added Errante's electric clarinet
magic -- what's not to like?
"Milk Teeth," by Michael Lowenstern, cuts its way wonderfully
through found-sound tooth-decay commercialism. The conclusion is
perhaps the first sex-phone recording used in a classical work,
but only pale turquoise rather than deep blue. Come to think of
it, "pale turquoise" is how it all ends, fading away into
the abyss of clarinets."
Clarinet - February/March 1998 - by Michèle Gingras *
world traveler, acher, and past I.C.A. President Gerry Errante is
world renowned for his innovative and stellar performances. In Shadows
of Ancient Dreams he puts all his many talents to use and introduces
listeners to outstanding new music.
Shadows of Ancient Dreams, composed by Errante in 1995,
combines the use of several exotic instruments he collected
during his travels. The instruments are collaged one over another
into a digital effects processor which delays and repeats sounds,
makmg it possible to layer the various voices. This composition
uses a mbira from Zimbabwe, a didjeridu from Australia, a shakuhachi
from Japan, a khlui from Thailand, and yes, a clarinet, too. The
piece is improvisatory in nature and the "shadows" of
the repetitions and the combinations of textures and timbres of
these instruments are designed to create a gentle ambiance, establishing
an atmosphere of a dream.
Charles Bestor is a native of New York and received his musical
training under Paul Hindemith at Yale University, Vincent Persichetti
and Peter Mennin at The Juilliard School, and independently under
the electronic pioneer Vladimir Ussachevsky. His exploration of
the integration of jazz-derived, tonally based music into the formal
structures of conventional concert music is apparent in Conversations
with Myself written between 1993 and 1996. The work was written
for Errante and is a set of conversations between the clarinetist
and his or her electronic alter ego, with each of the performers,
live and electronic, triggering the musical responses of the other.
Each "performer in turn, reacts to the other's musical gestures
in a continuing evolving musical dialogue. The various movements,
marked "about Max, about Her, about Midnight, about Hildegard,"
and "about Time" are each a reference to a specific historical
composer, ranging from the 12th-century abbess, Hildegarde of Bingen,
to the contemporary Max Roach, Thelonious Monk, and the elusive
Her. The latter is a luscious sweet sounding sea of synthesized
chords accompanying the clarinet's slow improvisation-like long
tones - beautiful! The music of the different composers serves as
a point of departure from which the material of the music freely
develops. The interaction between the live performer and the various
electronic voices is often aleatoric, and sometimes based on precomposed
material over which the performer exercises shifting degrees of
musical control. The final movement is a five-part canon, a summation
of the material of the preceding conversations.
Robert Scott Thompson wrote Canto (de Las Sombras) (Song
of the Shadows) for the I.C.A. Congress in Paris in 1996, where
Errante performed its premiere. Thompson is a composer of electroacoustic
and computer music, as well as music for chamber ensemble and orchestra.
A student of Bernard Rands, Roger Reynolds and Joji Yuasa, he earned
his Ph.D. in composition and computer music from the University
California at San Diego. He currently serves on the faculty of Georgia
State University. Cantos, written for Errante, again follows
this recording's theme with dreamlike aleatory sounds.
Todd Winkler is a composer specializing in computer music. He studied
with David Cope and Gordon Mumma at U.C. Santa Cruz, Morton Subotnick
and Mel Powell at CalArts and John chowning at Stanford University.
He is on the faculty of Brown University where he is the Director
of the MacColl Studio for Electronic Music. Winkler pioneered new
methods for integrating acoustic instruments with computer technology,
writing software that allows a computer to analyze a live performance,
and create expressive music by responding intelligently to real-time
musical gestures, phrasing and tempo, rendering each performance
different from one another. Snake Charmer is in three movements
and was written in 1992. Each movement is designed to explore a
different area of technology for interective composition. The first
movement features a playful interaction between the clarinet and
computer. The computer responds with variations on what it "hears,"
reacting to start time, phrase lengths, register, and dynamics.
In the second movement the computer's music is quite different from
the clarinet and responds to slow sounds with contrasting plucked
sounds. By playing more aggressively, the performer can "stimulate"
the computer into playing equally aggressive responses. The expressive
clarinet solo is processed by a subtle phasing effect. No synthesizers
are used in the third movement, except for the clarinet controlling
a digital delay.
Douglas Quin wrote Yasashii Kaze in 1993. It is a suite of
five short works written especially for Errante and was premiered
by him at the I.C.A. Congress in Ghent in 1993. The music uses sounds
extracd from nature such as bird song and waterfalls. Using a pitch-to-MIDI
converter and a synthesizer, Errante triggers a variety of electronic
sound palettes. The different movements' ambiance goes from the
semi-arid desert region of Sambuni, Kenya, with featured sounds
of bats, insects, frogs and water. The next is a collage of sounds
from an Alpine marsh and meadow in the Sierra Nevada mountains of
California. The third environment is comprised of frogs and rain
from the Atlantic rain forest of Catatinga in southeastern Brazil.
The fourth is a dawn chorus of owls from the spiny desert region
near Berenty at the southern end of Madagascar. The final ambiance
is with frogs and insects with a rinnung stream from the mountain
rain forest of Ranomafana in eastern Madagascr.
Michael Lowenstern is a well-known bass clarinetist and composer.
His amazing solo bass clarinet recording was recently reviewed by
this writer in this magazine. Milk Teeth (1995) for clarinet
and electronic tape utilizes no synthesized sounds, however
the clarinet sounds have been altered substantially. It was written
for Errante who performed it during the I.C.A. Congress in Paris
in 1996. The tide suggests the media's insistence on providing all
kinds of hygiene products to people past the "milk teeth"
stage. The piece is interspersed with TV commercial excerpts such
as fear of bad breath, the menace of gingivitis" and "it
cleans with hospital disinfecting," and "coffee so enchanting,
you'll fall in love."
Shadows' innovative mix of the exotic with the electronic
works very well. Very few performers have the means and savoir-faire
to pull off such repertoire. A Fanfare reviewer describing
Errante's previous recording, Electric Clarinet, wrote:
"If there is any hope for contemporary
tribal, almost primeval sounds, yet startlingly new and contemporary.
These are just a few words and images which spring to mind when
listening to this latest CD from F. Gerard Errante, internationally
renowned for his performance and composition of contemporary music.
The works on this CD were written for the artist and the title track
, Shadows of Ancient Dreams, (which I found the most evocative
of the works), was written by Gerard himself. It employs the use
of several exotic instruments, including the Australian didgeridoo,
the shakuhachi (Japanese flute), as well as the clarinet. Exotic
layers of sounds are achieved by means of a digital effects processor
delaying and repeating the gestures played by each instrument.
Another extraordinary work on this CD is the Charles Bestor Conversations
with Myself, a sort of inter-active composition in which the
performer and the live electronics react to each other, letting
the material develop freely.
Ones imagination could not help but be sparked by the array of evocative
sounds and effects on this CD. It is a must not only for the clarinetist
or electronic music fan, but for any performer, composer or listener
of contemporary music."