Farallon Quintet | Farallon Quintet Originals

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Farallon Quintet Originals

by Farallon Quintet

Classical chamber music with a modern twist. Dedicated to the clarinet quintet (string quartet plus clarinet) genre with a focus on new music commissions, innovative arrangements, and lesser known existing works.
Genre: Avant Garde: Classical Avant-Garde
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  Song Share Time Download
1. We Were Outnumbered
1:43 $0.99
2. The Wind Was Playing Havoc With the Fine Dust Particles
3:17 $0.99
3. Trying to Forget... Just Staring Up At the Sky
2:20 $0.99
4. Rumors: ...The San Francisco Bay Bridge Had Been Blown Up
1:37 $0.99
5. The Clanging of Thirty-Six Makeshift Iron Bells
1:31 $0.99
6. We Were Close to Freedom and yet Far from It
0:50 $0.99
7. A Memorial Service to Honor a Japanese American Soldier
2:06 $0.99
8. There Was Only the Desert Now
1:45 $0.99
9. Allegro moderato
8:52 $0.99
10. Allegro frenetico
6:38 $0.99
11. Poco lento - Molto vivace
7:40 $0.99
12. Gymnopedie No. 1 (Arr. Dan Flanagan)
2:26 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Natalie Parker, clarinet
Dan Flanagan, violin
Matthew Oshida, violin
Elizabeth Prior, viola
Jonah Kim, cello


Farallon Quintet, founded in 2012, is a dynamic San Francisco Bay Area ensemble and the only professional chamber music group focused exclusively on the repertoire for clarinet quintet—string quartet plus clarinet. As champions of the clarinet quintet genre, the group’s mission is to build awareness around this lesser known yet artistically significant musical form. In addition to playing the classics, the quintet seeks to perform rarely heard works, innovative arrangements, and new music by living composers. With 600+ existing clarinet quintets to choose from, the ensemble offers diverse and engaging programs to the general public.

The group is made up of leading Bay Area musicians who are principal players in the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, as well as the symphonies of Santa Rosa, Marin, Berkeley, Fremont, Modesto, and Sacramento. Collectively, its members are graduates of the Curtis Institute, Cleveland Institute, Rice University, Indiana University, and the Hochschule für Music in Freiberg, Germany. Individually, they have studied chamber music with the Juilliard, Cleveland, Guarneri, Emerson, Vermeer, Takacs, Arditti, Muir, Cavani, American, and Amadeus Quartets and have performed in chamber music settings with the Emerson Quartet, Leon Fleisher, Lynn Harrell, Chen Xi, and Yuja Wang.

As a quintet, the group is the 2016 ensemble-in-residence at Old First Concerts in San Francisco and recently received grants from San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music and the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition. Their 2014-15 season consisted of 20+ performances throughout Northern California, sextet collaborations with pianist Jon Nakamatsu, and several new music commissions. To date, the ensemble has commissioned and premiered new works by Chad Cannon, Durwynne Hsieh, Jay Sydeman, and Peter Josheff. Many more commissions are planned for future seasons.

The group takes its name from the Farallon Islands, located off the coast of San Francisco. In addition to being a landmark location close to where the players live and work, its meaning—“pillar” or “steep rock” in Spanish—indicates the group’s vision to become an important “pillar” or “rock” in classical music by exposing audiences to the relatively unknown yet substantial clarinet quintet repertoire. The Farallon Islands also represent the group’s inspiration, which is founded in the simplicity and beauty of nature. In fact, the group is known to intersperse rehearsals with hikes in the mountains and road trips—all with the intent to discover the natural beauties of Northern California.


Citizen 13660 is a firsthand, illustrated account of the internment experience during WWII by Ms. Miné Okubo, a U.S.-born American of Japanese ancestry. L.A. composer Chad Cannon (b. 1985) based his musical work (of the same title) on this book and selected eight of Okubo’s phrases as movement titles.

1. “We were outnumbered” refers to the large numbers of spiders, mice, and rats in the Tanforan camp.
2. “The wind was playing havoc with the fine dust particles” refers to the dust that was prevalent at the camps. In this setting, the composer chose the pedal note “D” to represent dust. As if mirroring the actual dust in the desert camp, this pedal note saturates every available octave in the ensemble throughout the movement.
3. “Trying to forget…just staring up at the sky” expresses the boredom that the detainees suffered, having been pulled out of their professions and left with only uncertainty for their future.
4. “Rumors: …the San Francisco Bay Bridge had been blown up” refers to the lack of good information in the camps that caused frenzied rumors and sometimes led to riots.
5. “The clanging of thirty-six makeshift iron bells” represents “chowtime” bells calling the camp detainees to their respective halls. The thirty-six sonorities in this movement vary from sonorous, to emotional, to obnoxious.
6. “We were close to freedom and yet far from it” depicts the detainees initially staying at the Tanforan Assembly Center located in urban San Francisco.
7. “A memorial service to honor a Japanese American soldier” depicts the irony of Japanese-Americans called upon to die for the very country that had imprisoned them.
8. “There was only the desert now” sums up the loneliness that detainees must have felt after suddenly being freed following their 3-5 years of imprisonment. Most were given only $25 and a bus ticket with which to choose a new home and start their lives over.


Hsieh’s (b. 1963) Clarinet Quintet portrays a progression of feelings through its three movements that in some ways parallels a failing relationship. The first movement is a bittersweet romance with moments of passion but also sadness and loneliness. With each successive movement, the mood becomes more and more on edge. By the second movement, adjectives like “annoyed” and “aggressive” start to appear in the score. By the third movement, words like “angry,” “anxious,” and “disgusted” are featured, although there is still time enough for love, and some level of hope remains. Like much of Hsieh’s other music, this piece juxtaposes completely tonal, even romantic passages alongside more modern-sounding materials to create a diverse emotional landscape.


Satie’s Gymnopédies are written in 3/4 time and are considered to be an important precursor to modern ambient music—music that today might be associated with yoga or spas. The melodies here use deliberate but mild dissonances against the harmony, producing a piquant, melancholy effect. No. 1, which is featured on this disc, includes instructions by Satie to be played “painfully.” We are grateful to our 1st violinist, Dan Flanagan, for arranging this work for our ensemble so that it could be performed in conjunction with a French Impressionist exhibit at the San Francisco Legion of Honor.



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