Mystic Clarinet: Saturday, June 3, 2017


For its season finale concert on Saturday, June 3, Seattle Modern Orchestra collaborates with Paris-based clarinetist Carol Robinson in a program centered around enigmatic Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi, with whom she worked closely. Robinson will also premiere a new work by SMO co-artistic director Jérémy Jolley, and celebrate the 90th birthday of renowned Seattle clarinetist/composer William O. “Bill” Smith with a performance of one of his works.

Carol Robinson grew up in the U.S. and graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory, but was drawn to Paris by the opportunities to study and perform contemporary music. Her activities led to an opportunity to work with Scelsi in Rome, where she had the intense experience of learning his music to his exacting standards. She has recorded extensively, including an album of the clarinet works of Scelsi on Mode Records as well as albums of works by Luigi Nono, Morton Feldman, Luciano Berio, Eliane Radigue and Phill Niblock. As a composer, Robinson has written for instruments with live and fixed electronics, and created music for dance and musical theater. Her work also includes frequent improvisation and multidisciplinary collaborations.

Scelsi (1905-1988) is an Italian composer famous for his Quattro Pezzi su una nota sola, a set of four pieces, each a meditation on a single note that is explored through timbre and microtonal variation. SMO’s Mystic Clarinet program will feature his Ko-Lho and Kya, both works that will transfix listeners with the organic gestures and surprising sonorities of Scelsi’s sound world.

Of Scelsi’s music, Robinson says, “I love the power of this music, its urgency and gripping emotional impact. I have always been fascinated by how it sounds simultaneously archaic and ultra-modern.”

William O. “Bill” Smith’s Rites for solo clarinet and tape was written for Robinson, commissioned by the CCMIX (formerly Xenakis’ UPIC studio) in Paris. Robinson and SMO will perform the world premiere of Jérémy Jolley’s Archipel… en résonnant à Venise… for solo clarinet, four instrumental groups and fixed media. Archipel… is based on Jolley’s memories of the sonorous qualities of Venice, Italy and places the musicians around and in the audience for a holistic listening experience.   


  • William O. “Bill” SmithRites for solo clarinet and tape (1998)
  • Giacinto Scelsi Ko-Lho for flute and clarinet (1966)
  • Giacinto Scelsi Kya for clarinet and 7 instruments (1959) – Seattle Premiere
  • Jérémy Jolley Archipel… en résonnant à Venise…  for solo clarinet, 4 instrumental groups and fixed media (2017) – World Premiere

WHEN: June 3, 2017 – 8 PM (7:30 PM Pre-concert conversation with co-artistic director Jérémy Jolley and guest clarinetist Carol Robinson)

VENUE: Chapel Performance Space at The Good Shepherd Center

TICKETS: SMO Chapel Series Season Pass: $60 Adult

Single tickets: General $25 | Seniors $15 | Students $10

About Carol Robinson

To say that Carol Robinson is a Franco-American composer and clarinetist is perhaps too restrictive to describe the eclecticism of her experience and passion. In fact, she seems interested in everything having to do with sound. She is not someone who likes the middle ground, preferring the edges, the extremes. Her music is situated in those places of tenderness and rage, gentleness and power that come from experience and mastery. Trained as a classical clarinetist, she graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory before continuing her study of contemporary music in Paris thanks to a H.H. Wooley grant. Whether playing repertoire or more adventurous material, she performs in major venues and festivals the world over (Festival d’Automne, MaerzMuzik, Archipel, RomaEuropa, Wien Modern, Huddersfield…), and works closely with musicians from a wide stylistic spectrum. A fervent improviser, she prefers the most open musical situations and regularly collaborates with photographers, visual artists and videographers.


Carol Robinson’s recent recordings demonstrate the breadth of her work. In addition to her own compositions Billows (PLUSH), Laima (Expériences de Vol) and Cross-Currents (SHIIIN), there are also monographic recordings of important contemporary composers such as Giacinto Scelsi, Luigi Nono, Morton Feldman, Luciano Berio (MODE), Eliane Radigue (SHIIIN), Phill Niblock (TOUCH), as well as alternative rock, jazz, and classical music.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *