Father Daughter Suite

Duet for Clarinet and Trumpet

with staging directions

Each of the three movements in the "Father Daughter Suite" represents a phase in the relationship between a father and his daughter. The staging directions for the performers are essential to the presentation of the Suite. In other words, the actions of the performers supplement the ideas in the music. Hence, the performers are encouraged to act as well as play their parts.

The composition was first performed by Anna Najoom, clarinet, and Dennis Najoom, her father. Dennis had just purchased a Kuhlo Horn (an early 19th Century version of the trumpet, a favorite of Wagner,) and I wrote the first movement with this dark, operatic sound in mind. I was nervous about the inability of the performers to take visual cues from each other during the first movement, but they seemed to have an instinct about knowing how to manipulate the floating meter. I later got Anna and Dennis to pose for these photographs.

1st Movement: "Destination"

At the start of the 1st Movement, the father is located down stage (closer to the audience in staging parlance,) positioned slightly stage left (to the right as you are viewing this page,) facing the audience. The position of the daughter (clarinet) is upstage (meaning farther away from the audience) with her back to the audience.

If a lighting crew is available for the performance, downstage is to be normally lit while upstage is to be dimily lit. At the first notes from the clarinet, a spot light is to slowly illuminate the daguther who is loacted upstage.

Since the daughter is facing away from the audience, the two performers cannot see each other to start and stop in unison. However, the score is written to be played with independent tempi and staggered enteries, a la call-and-response. Each player feeds off the musical phrasing of the other. It goes without saying that no two performances will be exactly alike.

Stage directions for the father (trumpet) indicate that he is to slowly traverse the stage from stage right to stage left (moving from left to right as you view this page,) while the daughter slowly turns to face the audience and moves down stage (towards the audience.) At the end of the first movement, the two are to be side by side.

An audio rendering of the 1st Movement is available on this site.

The score for the 1st Movement is also available on this site.

2nd Movement : Dance

The Second Movement contains four dance themes of different styles and tempi. The performers are free to interpret the rhythms using any gestures or movement they please.

Both performers remain downstage during this movement. Their activity and gestures are not specifically described in the score.


3rd Movement: Defiance

The Third Movement involves a confrontation between the two characters. At first, the father defends his authority. But later, it is the daughter who asserts her independence. Following each "challenge," the two resolve their differences and eventually move to a point of acceptance.

At the end of this movement, the staging is the reverse of the first movement, with the father turning away and moving up stage while the daughter remains down stage, facing the audience. Hence, the cycle is complete.