Grace Period finds its inspiration in breathing meditation, and draws on two diametrically opposed techniques clarinetists learn to do very well: play long sustained notes with tremendous dynamic control, and play many notes very fast. “Grace” refers to grace notes: short quick notes that are normally used as a decoration to a “main” note. Here, though, grace notes are allowed to stand on their own, taking their own time in longer and longer groupings. “Period” refers to the periodic structure of the piece: 17 measures, each 17 seconds long. Each period is a circle of breath that begins with an inhale, the sound emerging from the exhale. As the music evolves, the single long tone that begins the piece gradually becomes more active, until finally the grace notes take over completely, and total stillness is transformed into total movement.
Grace Period is dedicated to clarinetist Cris Inguanti with thanks for his invaluable advice. It was made possible through an Artist Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.