The Serenade for six players
was written in Portland, Oregon, during the fall of 1968. It is in two movements, the first consisting of shorter phrases than the last, and more closed in form. In every other way they are one continuous thought. The title is lighter than the piece turns out to be.
The performance by dinosaur Annex is the first professional performance in Boston of a piece which is highly characteristic in all but its extremely chromatic language. The piece was not commissioned (I did not receive my first commission until three years later), but it received a fine first performance from the Group for New Music in Portland, and was soon performed by the ensemble of the same name at Columbia, and b y many other new music ensembles, most notably by the DaCapo Chamber Ensemble at an Amherst College festival honoring Roger Sessions.
I am very attached to the Serenade
, for a number of reasons. It is short, about eleven minutes, and compressed, and I have come to value these qualities excessively in the last few years. It is the last piece I wrote in my twenties and it took a new course, contrapuntal chromaticism, which greatly enlarged my vocabulary. And Roger Sessions said it has “a lot of juice.”
When Carl St. Clair planned a two-concert set of my pieces in Ann Arbor in 1984, he chose mainly things from before 1970, including this piece. At first I was worried, “are they trying to tell me something”, then delighted when I discovered hidden connections, roads not taken but not overgrown.