Sextet (2010/2012) by Peter Josheff
for flute/piccolo, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, and piano

in two movements

Sextet is one of my favorite of my own compositions. It followed a long period of writing vocal music (including spoken voice) which culminated in the chamber opera Inferno (2006-2008, produced in 2009). Anyone who has ever written (or participated in the production of) an opera knows that there are a huge number of moving parts, both compositionally and collaboratively. Composing the Sextet after this was a retreat to a safe haven; chance to breathe and to think private thoughts.

Starting with a text provides ready-made material for composition. If one is faithful to the words, melodies and rhythms can appear almost as if by magic and the larger forms that lie slumbering within the text can spring into being with very little difficulty. Composing purely for instruments without this head start is a bit like falling into the deep end of the pool: One must learn to swim on one's own.

Working on the Sextet calmed many of my insecurities about writing abstract music and nudged me further along the path toward being at ease with my own voice.

My most recent work, The Dream Mechanic, Four Poems by Carol Vanderveer Hamilton, for woman's spoken voice, tenor and chamber orchestra, will be premiered by the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Ben Simon, director, on February 24, 25, 26 in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Berkeley.

— P. J.    

[from program for January 30, 2017 concert]