Memory Palace (2007) by Ann Callaway
for clarinet, cello, and piano

At 6:00 on an evening in May several years ago, I happened to be standing on the ramparts of a castle overlooking the Main River and the old town of Würzburg. I counted at least ten church steeples in the town below, and it seemed as if the bells in each of them started ringing on the hour. I had never heard such deep, sonorous, booming bells.

The evening was beautiful, the air soft, and I felt steeped in the centuries-old atmosphere of the castle. Later, on the flight home, I found myself working on some sort of "musical artifact," and months later, it assumed the shape of a very long chorale tune, or perhaps a pavane, more suited to something I might have written if I had lived in the 1600’s. I used both the "pavane" and an idealization of the deep throbbing church bells of Würzburg as material for a theme and variations for clarinet, cello, and piano. There is an old French tune naming various churches (how that got into my Germanic fantasy, I can’t say) which suited my purposes, as well as some more "literal" chiming made by touching the nodes of strings in the contra-octave range of the piano, while the corresponding keys of those strings are struck. It is this effect that both opens and closes the piece.

— A. C.    

[from program for February 10, 2014 concert]