Program notes

Stick Dance 2 for clarinet, viola and piano, opus 22b (1989)



The piece draws its title from indigenous traditions of the stick dance, and particularly the Wayang Kulit shadow puppets from Indonesia, but it also calls to mind a modern creative world of shadows and hazy outlines. The alternation of lyricism with sudden rhythmic excitement, slow quiet glissandi and clarinet microtones, the sense of tempo which is fast and slow at the same time, and the muffled, distant and trembling quality of the viola part are typical features of the piece. The use of echoes and sudden outbursts suggest the following analogy: the music is played and danced on one hilltop whilst it is seen and heard from another. The effects of wind and cloud make the music sometimes clear and sharp, sometimes tranquil and distant. By turns, the music is either close or distant.


Stick Dance exists in three versions – each is somewhat different to the other. It was originally written in 1987 for Floyd Williams (clarinet), Valerie Dickson (piano), and James Harper (marimba) to perform at the Musica Nova Festival in Brisbane in 1988. That first version was based on Shadow’s Dance (clarinet, violin, piano, 1985) which I wrote for my own playing as a clarinettist and which has since been withdrawn. Stick Dance 2 was a 1989 reworking of Stick Dance for the Musica Troppo ensemble of Nicole Saintilan (viola), David Vance (piano) and myself (clarinet); Stick Dance 2 was subsequently revised and expanded in 2005 for Dean-Emmerson-Dean for an international tour with the same scoring of clarinet, viola and piano.  Stick Dance 3 (clarinet, violin, piano, 1993) is another version written for Zanfonia Trio for the Park Lane Group concerts at the Purcell Room in London in January 1993.  It should be noted that each version is more than a re-orchestration but a reworking and expansion of the original concept and material.

© Andrew Schultz, 2012.

The performance in the YouTube recording that follows is by Perihelion ensemble (Patricia Pollett – viola, Nigel Sabin – clarinet, Jenni Fleming – piano).