“The Conjurer” is inspired by the world’s shamanic traditions. The piece is ritualistic, while not trying to replicate any particular tradition.
A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of good and evil spirits, especially among some peoples of northern Asia and the Americas. Typically such people enter a trance state during a ritual, and practice divination and healing. “Conjurer" is the related English term (originating in middle English: “con” (“with”) + “jurare” (“law”)--a person who has the power to solemnly call upon spirits by invocation or spell.
The flutist in this piece is the conjurer, who in the first movement calls forth the spirits. As they emerge, the spirits begin a ritualistic dance, hesitant at first but then ever more intensely, as the flute’s conjuring commands. Finally, the conjurer departs, having accomplished both exorcism and ablution.
The work was commissioned by a consortium of flutists and ensembles.
“The Conjurer” is c.17 minutes in duration. The score is transposed, and scored for flute solo, oboe, Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, horn, Bb trumpet, trombone, piano, double bass and one percussionist, as well as two hall clarinets. (See below for percussion instruments.)
The entire hall begins in the dark. [The opening (m.1-12) flute and percussion parts should be rehearsed in the light until the performers get a basic sense of how they interact (one plays, brief pause, then the other plays), so that in the dark they can just listen to each other for approximate interaction.] The flute soloist begins playing in the rear of the hall (in the dark) processing gradually toward the stage around m.13, when stage lights begin to fade in. Stage lights should be to full intensity (though not too bright if possible), as the flutist arrives on stage around m. 27. The flutist begins to recess at. m.258 in the second movement, and the lights should begin to fade out around m.269, where just the piano and bass (and random percussion) are accompanying the flute. The house should go to black as the bass drum fades out.
The two hall clarinetists should be in the rear, on opposites sides of the hall. They may use stand lights but they should not be turned on until shortly before they play at m.33 of the first movement. (Once they’re on, they may remain on until near the end.) The clarinetists do not process.
Commissioned by a consortium of flutists and wind ensembles, premiered by flutist Gabe Southard, April, 2015.