Blue Nights



For tuba and piano

Score Sample

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Blue Nights

for Tuba and Piano

(from Sonata for Clarinet and Piano)

James M. Stephenson

Program notes: (from original clarinet sonata)

The Sonata for Clarinet and Piano came about through a discussion with John Bruce Yeh,
Assistant Principal Clarinetist with the Chicago Symphony. I first got to know John through the collaborative
effort to co-commission and premiere at Ravinia (the CSO summer home) my “Devil’s Tale”, sequel to Stravinsky’s “Soldier’s Tale”. I did not know at the time John’s fervor for new music and collaboration, but it was due to that revelation that the idea of a clarinet sonata sprung up. Together we put the word out that we’d like to co-create a new work, and much to our delight, 25 clarinetists (listed below) pledged their support to the sonata project.
The piece was initially to be premiered in the spring of 2016, but John got an invitation to do a recital at Interlochen Arts Center in November of 2015. Interlochen is where I spent 7 summers, 3 school-years, and 2 years teaching (trumpet), and I knew that this was an opportunity
to not let slip by – for artistic and personal reasons – so it was time to get to work. I wrote the work in the last 2 weeks of October, handed the score off to John and the very accomplished accompanist at Interlochen, Nozomi Khudyev, and let them do the rest!

The music:

The sonata is in four movements. This second movement – now in G minor and retitled “Blue Nights” for solo tuba – is the most personal and introspective movement of the sonata – where lyricism and beauty preside over a mixed-meter.
I transcribed the movement for tuba and piano at the inspiration of Gene Pokorny (principal tuba player of the Chicago Symphony) for an upcoming recital in the fall of 2019.

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