Lindgren Quintet

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Composer: Lindgren, Sabra, 1947 -
   Country of origin: United States
Title: Quintet for Clarinet and Strings
   Other titles:
   Movements: Allegro; Andante; Minuet and Scherzo; Allegretto
Year(s) composed: 2015
Publisher: Lindgren Music Publishers
Duration (in minutes): 29
Clarinet type: B-flat
Note: See comment below

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  1. Quintet for Clarinet and Strings has 4 movements: I. Allegro, II. Andante, III. Minuet and Scherzo, and IV. Allegretto. Suggested fingerings are written in the violin parts. As of January, 2022, this quintet has not yet been performed. The full scores and parts to all of the movements have been given to Professor Don Oehler, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Here are the links to each movement of Quintet for Clarinet and Strings on Score Exchange for listening, viewing, and printing:

    Lindgren Music Publishing,, and Lindgren Music Publishing, Facebook

    Interview: Donald L. Oehler (DLO) with composer, Sabra Lindgren (SL); January 25, 2022
    Thoughts on Writng for the Genre of String Quartet With Clarinet

    DLO: What led you to write for string quartet with clarinet?
    SL: I was quite older, in my early 50s, when I became determined to compose music. It took a long musical journey to arrive at composing a string quartet with clarinet.

    I played clarinet throughout my public-school life, then oboe in college, and then later in life, I began a serious study of the violin.

    When I was a young schoolgirl, I listened to records of all varieties from the public library. As a teen and in college, I played folk music on the guitar. As I got older, I attended symphonies, chamber music concerts, and recitals. I played in orchestra, chamber ensemble, and band. Over time, I grew with these experiences into an aspiring composer.

    I didn’t know if I could compose, but I tried and tried and developed my skill with composing. My weakness is not having a strong background on the keyboard. But I took a double major in biology and music in college. I received a good background in music theory and form. All these experiences led me gradually into composition.

    As a composer, I knew that I would grow best if I explored a variety of genres and forms, but my interests were mostly in classical music. I first composed a hymn, then a string quartet (No. 1), then I took on my first symphony (No. 1).

    I composed in many forms before I chose to compose for the clarinet. Listening to clarinet recitals and chamber music inspired me tremendously. I wanted to try composing for clarinet and string quartet.

    I’ve always loved the clarinet, having played it as my first instrument. I love its woody, warm, and rich sounds in the lower register, its smooth mid-register sounds, and its bright sounds in the higher registers. I love how it can be humorous or moody or relaxing and dreamy. The clarinet goes so well with the string instruments. I wanted to explore the clarinet’s nature with the strings. I wouldn’t mind doing more of this or writing another clarinet quintet, actually.

    DLO What was the experience like for you?
    SL: I was excited to see what I could do with the clarinet, having had a background as a clarinetist when I was younger and having listened to a lot of clarinet music and live clarinet performances.

    After practicing composition with a variety of forms, I decided it was time for a project for clarinet and strings. I wanted the music to express itself in ways that would uplift, entertain, and inspire the listener. I wanted the clarinet to sound in various moods, such as relaxing, dreamy, graceful, sweet, pensive, doleful, and humorous. I also wanted to make the composition challenging for the instrumentalist, as that is of value to the serious artist who needs to develop and perform with great technique.

    Into this mix, of course, comes my own personality and my own emotions and intuitions. I also like to leave it up to the listener and performers to interpret the music themselves.

    DLO: Did you have contact with musicians? Did you write for any particular players?
    SL: I did not have contact with any musicians while writing the clarinet quintet. I did, however, imagine clarinetists that I have listened to and how it might sound if they performed it.

    DLO Is this the first time to write for string quartet with clarinet?
    SL: Yes, my clarinet quintet is my first time writing for clarinet with string quartet. I have written for clarinet and woodwind pieces – for wind quintets. I have also written for clarinet with strings within the textures of my symphonies.

    DLO: Would you do another?
    SL: I would love to write more clarinet quintets. Right now (January, 2022), I am in the middle of a symphonic work. Everything takes time, of course.

    DLO: What influences do you have, if any?
    SL: There are abundant influences that impacted me as a composer! My mother loved music, so my exposure to her music in our home started early in my life. There was the radio, and later we acquired a stereo and got records of all kinds from the library. I loved to listen to all these records. I would pretend to conduct. I taught myself guitar and played to the folk songs on the records.

    I took clarinet all through public school and chose to play in orchestra instead of band in high school. Our orchestra teacher had us play an abundance of classical music. In college, I took a second major in music education. I played clarinet in woodwind ensemble and also studied the oboe and played the oboe in band and a little in orchestra. I attended countless recitals and symphonic concerts. I have also performed on the violin, mostly in orchestra and recitals. I have only a little performance experience on the double bass and viola.

    I seriously studied private violin for many years after college, and my teacher gave me free tickets to all the symphony concerts. I have also privately studied to some extent, the viola, the double bass, but only a little piano. I have spread myself out thin with instruments. I cannot call myself a pianist. If I was a good pianist, I think it would be a boon to me as a composer.

    I taught orchestra and band in the public schools as a substitute teacher for three school districts. I was the director of honor orchestra in one school district. I have given private oboe and violin lessons. I listened to music using the Norton scores. I read Rimsky-Korsakov’s book, “Principles of Orchestration,” which I consider of critical importance to my understanding of composition, along with my courses in theory and form and my abundant listening experience of chamber music. I use Cecil Forsyth’s book on orchestration as a reference book. I read books about composers and by composers, such as Copeland, Schoenberg, and Hindemith. I have a love for all the instruments, and I have a broad experience with most of them. This eventually led me to composition, though later in life. Because I am a wind player, as well as a string player, I seem to have a knack for composing for the winds, especially the woodwinds. I understand the characteristics of all these instruments, but especially the woodwinds and the strings.

    DLO: Did you do any “research” on the genre of clarinet with string quartet? For example, how many other quintets do you know, or did you listen to others or abandon the idea of having other quintets in your ears?
    SL: My wide range of listening experiences are the main influences in my understanding of the genre of clarinet with string quartet. In college, I played the clarinet in “Woodwind Ensemble.” I got a good dose of that genre for clarinet as an actual clarinetist. I remember my professor giving us a lot of Persichetti and Stravinsky music to play. I grew with this experience.

    I love to listen to other composers’ works. They help me understand composition and how to write for the instruments. Rimsky-Korsakov’s book on orchestration has helped me significantly. But I also like to distance myself from listening to other composers’ works so much — so that I don’t start imitating them. I strive to use my own ears and intuition. I have been told that I have an “Americana” sound. I do hear my “Western” psyche in my music. But I acknowledge that I stand on the shoulders, so to speak, of other composers. They have all tremendously influenced and helped me. I love them all. I have favorites, but I value all the composers I have listened to. Mozart is so different from Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Schoenberg, or Glass, but I love each of these composers in their own way. Of course, music remains in my ears after listening to it a lot. So often, just in general, I have musical energy in my head.

    DLO: What challenges, if any, did you face writing for this ensemble?
    SL: I am familiar with all of the strings. I studied the violin intensely. I have also privately studied the viola and the double bass. I took string class requirements as a music major in college. I played in woodwind ensemble. I taught orchestra and band in public schools. And, of course, I played for many years. I would say that I did not find it challenging to write for these particular instruments because of the extent of this familiarity. What does challenge me is being a creative composer. Composition is always a challenging process of progress.

    DLO: What was your entry to the genre?
    SL: I entered the clarinet quintet genre through my woodwind ensemble performances, my chamber music listening experiences, and my compositional studies.

    DLO: What did you find to be significant about the combination of clarinet and strings from writing a piece? Did you gain any insight?
    SL: I am in love with how beautiful the clarinet sounds with strings. Violin and viola registers go so well with the clarinet register – the violin goes a little higher, and the viola goes a little lower. The clarinet can enrich the string sound, and the strings can soften the clarinet. A combination of clarinet and strings can amplify the sound. I know that woodwinds prefer flats, and strings prefer sharps, so I try to keep that insight in mind. There is the concert C score, which is in C, and then there is the clarinet score part, which is in B-flat, so I realized that I do have to check the actual clarinet part to make sure I did not write any horribly difficult finger combinations. I would count these considerations as insights that I needed (and need) in order to compose for clarinet and strings.

    DLO: Use of ensemble: concertante or chamber music? Both are combined?
    SL: I try to give variety and balance to the instrumental combinations within a score and balance to the amount of participation of the instruments. I vary textures and combinations for interest and contrast. I think this is all good strategy. I also like to consider the aspect of dialogue between the instruments and the aspect of them taking a journey together. Nevertheless, I tried to feature the clarinet within the string quartet.

    DLO: Did you get any insight into this particular ensemble from writing for this genre?
    SL: After not paying attention to this quintet score for half a dozen years, I recently went back to it and realize just how much I enjoy writing for this genre. I learned to appreciate how beautifully the clarinet and strings work together as a quintet.

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