Commissioned by the University of Minnesota, Duluth for Theodore Schoen
First performance: July 3, 2008 - ClarinetFest, Kansas City, MO; Laura Arden, David Krakauer, clarinets; Theodore Schoen, Evan Ziporyn, bass clarinets
Recording: Clarinet Hive (Naxos), 2010 - Laura Arden, Tim Paradiso, clarinets; Theodore Schoen, Evan Ziporyn, bass clarinets
Hive grows out of my experience as an amateur bee-keeper, in both sound and structure. Honey-bee society predates our own, and in many ways the encounter with the apis is like encountering extraterrestrials, full of shocking similarities and profound differences. Hive is not strictly programmatic, but it does contain elements that come directly out of this encounter. For example, happy bees seem to vibrate a collective "A"; when agitated, this rises to a "C": this is the source of the opening oscillations in the music. The overall shape of the piece - swirls and flight patterns, frenzied accruals, followed by a long, zen-like stasis - mirrors the larger life-cycle of the hive, where the summer's buzz of activity is followed by a unique quasi-hibernation, the throng bundling together for warmth and protection, patiently vibrating their way through the winter. Recording the piece in frozen Minnesota during January, this seemed especially apt.