Eclogue (2011) by Erik Ulman
for clarinet, cello, and bass
World premiere; Earplay commission

An eclogue is "a pastoral poem in which shepherds are the speakers. [It] may be a song of courtship, a lament about disappointment in love, a dirge for the death of a fellow shepherd. It may be a monologue in the first person, a poetic dialogue, or a singing contest; and it may conceal an allegory of political, artistic, or religious ideas or developments." (The Reader's Companion to World Literature). I was attracted to the genre's rich ambiguities (poised between nature and artifice, between directness and obliquity, eventually between pagan and Christian implications), as it developed from Virgil through the likes of Spenser into modern literature (Auden's The Age of Anxiety and Mallarmé's L'apres-midi d'un faune, for example, are both subtitled as eclogues, and the genre is absorbed into Robert Pinget's novel The Apocrypha); and, also, to its echoes in painting, especially in Poussin and Twombly. Eclogue was written in 2011 for Earplay; thanks are due to them, especially their intrepid director and ondiste Mary Chun, for requesting the work.

— E. U.    

[from program for March 19, 2012 concert]