Instrumentation Bb clarinet, violoncello, piano

Timing 10′

Composed 1998

Commissioned by CBC Radio Music for the Amici Chamber Ensemble

World Premiere April 30, 1999, Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto, Ontario. Amici Chamber Ensemble (Joaquin Valdepeñas, clarinet; David Hetherington, cello; Patricia Parr, piano)

Recorded by Cris Inguanti, Joseph Elworthy and Corey Hamm on Vox Terra

Programme Notes

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf . . .

The allusion to the three witches in Macbeth aside, the title triple witching comes from the world of the stock market. Triple Witching occurs on the four Fridays during the year when stock options, stock index options and stock index futures simultaneously expire. Traditionally, on those days the stock market is especially volatile, with massive trading as the traders try to maximize their profits before the final bell.

Of course, it’s all about profit–the more, the better–which led me to consider the role of money in our everyday lives. Money has a tremendous allure–it can indeed be quite bewitching. Most of us spend the larger part of our days in pursuit of its acquisition. Most of us also never seem to have enough of it, and when we get some, suddenly it’s gone. And yet so many financial transactions occur without ever handling any actual money: credit cards (loans, really); electronic transfers (no cheques or stamps required either); stock options (buying the possibility of buying)–the list goes on and on. Money has become a virtual construct.

Triple Witching explores the power of money in our culture. It is scored for, appropriately enough, a trio of clarinet, cello and piano. The piece is based on three different musical ideas which are introduced in order: first, the allure of money is suggested by a haunting unison line; second, a flurry of activity expresses our continuous driving need for money, though what money we do acquire may be quick to disappear; and third, more reflective and introspective music laments the struggles that money, or the lack thereof, can bring. Each of these ideas is further developed and commented upon as their reappearances cycle through the course of the piece.


[An] attractively written piece that throws an ironic glance over its own plangency… (John Lehr/Toronto Star)

[Amici] took the evening’s title, Triple Witching – a stock market money term – and made book with a barrage of inspired cameo sections that, for the moment at least, made the world go round. Clarinetist Joaquin Valdepenas, cellist David Hetherington and pianist Patricia Parr swooned, swayed and powered their way through Ryan’s endlessly interesting trio, making it all sound composed on the spot. (James Manishen/Winnipeg Free Press)

PDF perusal score

Triple Witching perusal


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