Jacqueline Leclair: Music for English Horn Alone


Oboist Jacqueline Leclair releases a collection of new works for English horn that cover a wide range of stylistic territory and explore the rich, penetrating voice of this beguiling instrument. Featuring premieres of music by Hannah Kendall, Faye-Ellen Silverman, Karola Obermüller, and Cecilia Arditto, as well as recent works by Jenni Brandon, Lisa Bielawa, and Meera Gudipati, Leclair's virtuosity, flexibility, and lyricism abound in these major contributions to the English horn repertoire.


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Time
Total Time 40:01
01Ashakiran “Ray of Hope”
Ashakiran “Ray of Hope”
03Layered Lament
Layered Lament
04In the City at Night
In the City at Night
05different forms of phosphorus
different forms of phosphorus
06Synopsis #10: I Know This Room So Well
Synopsis #10: I Know This Room So Well
07Música invisible
Música invisible

Oboist Jacqueline Leclair’s Music for English Horn Alone features several recent works for this characterful member of the double reed family, four of which are premieres. There is an appealing range of aesthetics represented by the music on this recording, from lyrical character pieces with various sources of inspiration by Hannah Kendall, Jenni Brandon, Meera Gudipati, and Lisa Bielawa to finely wrought modernist works by Faye-Ellen Silverman and Karola Obermüller, to an off-kilter exploration of extended technique by Cecilia Arditto. Leclair brings her virtuosity and interpretative expertise to all of these works, a testament to her many years experience at the forefront of new music performance.

Meera Gudipati’s Ashakiran (“Ray of Hope”) (2019) is grounded in Hindustani Indian classical music. Based on the morning raag Bhairavi, the work opens with an improvisatory passage introducing the pitch content and registral contours of the raag. Hints of rhythmic passagework are interspersed with lyrical explorations in this first section. The second section of the piece evokes the gat, a cyclic phrase that is embellished by the performer, featuring virtuosic material. Ashakiran closes with a short, meditative improvisation on raag Bhairavi, inviting the performer of the notated score to briefly inhabit the improvisatory source of its inspiration.

Hannah Kendall’s Joe (2006) is a musical interpretation of an award winning photographic portrait by Richard Boll. The photo, a prize winning work on display at London’s National Portrait Gallery, is of a shirtless man, wearing a few necklaces and sporting tattoos, and captured in a manner that suggests an itinerant lifestyle. Kendall’s setting vacillates between mournful, singing phrases and playful, dancelike fragments.

The tape part for Faye-Ellen Silverman’s Layered Lament (1984) was fashioned from pre-recorded string sounds, furnished by Vladimir Ussachevsky and realized at the University of Utah Electronic Studio. The expressive notion of “lament” pervades the piece, from the hauntingly opaque, “choral” quality of the opening, to the vocal urgency and elastic phrasing of the English horn gestures. After the introduction, the English horn has an extended solo exposition before the tape part provides an unsettling sonic environment that supports increased instrumental intensity.

Jenni Brandon’s In the City at Night (2008) depicts the unique, magical quality of the nocturnal urban environment. Delineated sections including “Sunset,” “City lights,” and “Quiet Streets,” Brandon captures several characters in the five and half minute work. After developing an evocative opening section featuring an ascending arpeggio figure, the material gradually glides into a repeated syncopated groove that is varied and embellished. A tender melody follows, before we hear the repeated groove again, before finally the ascending arpeggio returns to close the work.

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Karola Obermüller’s different forms of phosphorus (2020) is a meditation on metamorphosis and life processes that occur at a geological pace, having profound impacts on life on earth. Key to the musical language of the piece is a rich vocabulary of multiphonics on the English horn, sonorities that Obermüller relishes and mines for deep expressive content. A unique feature of her treatment of these rarefied sonic gems is the various oscillations that happen within their sustained duration, whether it be an accelerating vibrato, trills, or exploring fine increments of microtonal gradation. Obermüller gradually introduces pointed, fragmentary gestures in between the verticalities, until the two textures become integrated in a quixotic, primordial dance which ultimately fades out into the distance. Leclair commissioned Obermüller to write the piece specifically for this project.

Part of a series of fifteen short works for solo instruments, Lisa Bielawa’s Synopsis #10: I Know This Room So Well (2008) was written during a three year residency with the Boston Modern Opera Project. The subtitle refers to a character in an unfinished opera of hers who describes her intimate familiarity with her jail cell — “If in the dark a chair has moved, I can move around it. I know the room so well.” The piece begins with a lilting two note descending figure contrasted by a floating melody above. The consistent return to these two fragments of material, reordered and turned around, is reflective of some of the enforced familiarity to which the character alludes, or as Bielawa writes, “our various jails, virtual, and real.”

The final work on the album, Argentinian composer Cecilia Arditto’s Música invisible (2004) takes inspiration from the Queen of Heart’s famous line from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, “Off with his head!” Arditto writes a range of sounds that are made “over and through the instrument without using bocal or reed.” She establishes a series of clocklike percussive figures that are broken up by vocalizations and utterances, creating a primitive, slightly mad quality. The piece is a sort of anti-English horn English horn piece, and a clever and wry way of ending an album filled with such instrumental range.

– Dan Lippel

Recorded at Hotel 2 Tango, Montreal Quebec

Recording Engineer: Shae Brossard

Mastering Engineer: Harris Newman

Recording dates:

  • Bielawa, Brandon, Gudipati, Kendall, Silverman: February 9-12, 2020
  • Arditto: April 2, 2020
  • Obermüller: May 15, 2020

Design: Marc Wolf, marcjwolf.com

Jacqueline Leclair

Oboist Jacqueline Leclair is Associate Professor of Oboe at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. She is a member of Ensemble Signal, and can frequently be heard performing solo and chamber music concerts internationally. Leclair formerly served on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and Mannes College (NYC), and was Assistant Professor of Oboe at Bowling Green State University (Ohio) from 2007 to 2012. During her last two years at BGSU she also served as the Director of the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music.

Summer festivals for which Leclair has served as faculty and/or performer include the Lincoln Center Festival (NYC), Chamber Music Conference of the East (VT/NY), June In Buffalo (NY), Chamber Music Festival of Aguascalientes (Mexico), East/West Festival (Kazan Tatarstan) and the Sebago Music Festival (ME), among others.

In addition to performing a variety of classical and other musics, Leclair specializes in the study and performance of new music. She has premiered many works, and regularly presents classes in contemporary music and its techniques at schools such as UCLA, the Eastman School of Music, Brigham Young University, The North Carolina School for the Arts, and University of California San Diego.

Leclair has recorded for Nonesuch, CRI, Koch, Neuma, Deutsche Grammophon, and CBS Masterworks, receiving critical acclaim in particular for her premiere recording of Roger Reynolds’ Summer Island. Luciano Berio’s Sequenza VIIa Supplementary Edition by Jacqueline Leclair is published by Universal Edition, Vienna; and Leclair's recording of the piece is on the Mode Records collection of all Berio Sequenze and other solo works.

The New York Times has reviewed Leclair's performances as "astonishing" and as having "electrifying agility"; and the New Yorker has referred to her as "lively" and "wonderful." Leclair studied with Richard Killmer and Ronald Roseman at the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester and SUNY Stony Brook, earning a Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Doctor of Musical Arts.


Meera Gudipati

Meera Gudipati currently serves as co-principal flute with the United States Coast Guard Band. Previously, she held the position of principal flute with the New Haven Symphony and the South Asian Symphony Orchestra. In addition to exploring her South Asian heritage through performance, Gudipati incorporates Indian classical music in her compositions. Recent commissions include a reed quintet for the Yale Music in Schools Initiative. Her accolades include 1st prize at the National Flute Association Orchestral Audition Competition, Kentucky Collegiate Flute Competition, and the Florida Young Artist Competition. Gudipati holds a Master of Music from Yale School of Music and a Bachelor of Music from University of Texas at Austin. As a supporter of local organizations, Gudipati has collaborated with museums and non-profits to amplify culture and history within her community.


Hannah Kendall

Described as ‘...intricately and skillfully wrought’ by The Sunday Times, Hannah Kendall’s music has attracted the attentions of some of the UK’s finest groups including London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers, and Philharmonia Orchestra, with performances at the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, The Royal Opera House's Linbury Studio Theatre, The Place, Westminster, Canterbury, Gloucester and St Paul’s Cathedrals, Westminster Abbey, and Cheltenham Music Festival. Kendall’s works have also been broadcast on BBC Radio, including 'Composer of the Week' in March 2015, and 'Hear and Now' in October 2016. In 2015, Hannah won the Women of the Future Award for Arts and Culture. Recent projects include a one-man chamber opera, 'The Knife of Dawn' premiered at London's Roundhouse in October 2016. Kendall is deeply committed to contemporary culture as a whole and often works collaboratively with artists from other art forms.

Born in London U.K. in 1984, Kendall graduated from the University of Exeter with First Class Honours in Music, having studied composition with Joe Duddell. Hannah also completed a Masters in Advanced Composition with Distinction from the Royal College of Music studying with Kenneth Hesketh and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Royal College of Music Study Award and the RVW Trust. Kendall is currently based in New York City as a Doctoral Fellow in Composition at Columbia University.


Faye-Ellen Silverman

Faye-Ellen Silverman began her music studies before the age of four at the Dalcroze School of Music in New York City. She first achieved national recognition by winning the Parents League Competition, judged by Leopold Stokowski at the age of 13, and performing her winning piano composition in Carnegie Hall. A published composer at age 24 and an ASCAP member at age 25, about 100 of her compositions are now published by Subito Music and recorded on several labels. She has received awards from UNESCO, American Pen Women and ASCAP, and artist residen- cies in Europe (Villa Serbelloni, Fundación Valparaíso, and VCCA/ France) and the United States (Macdowell, Yaddo, and VCCA). She has received numerous commissions, including those from the Greater Lansing Symphony and the American Brass Quintet. Her American performances include those by the Baltimore, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Greater Bridgeport, and New Orleans orchestras, and at the Monday Evening Concert series (L.A.), Voices of Change (Dallas), and the Aspen Music Festival. International performances include those at the International Experimental Music Festival in Bourges, ISCM - Korea section, Nieuwe Oogst (Belgium), Grupo Musica Hoje (Brazil), the Corona Guitar Quartet (Denmark), and Jauna Muzika (Lithuania).

Silverman is a founding member of Music Under Construction, a Founding Board Member of the International Women’s Brass Conference, and a Board Member (Secretary) of New York Women Composers. She is also the author of several articles, record reviews for The Balti- more Sun, and the 20th century section of the Schirmer History of Music. She is currently on the faculties of The Juilliard School and New York University.


Jenni Brandon

Jenni Brandon is a composer and conductor, creating music in collaboration with other musicians and artists. She is inspired to write music that is beautiful and lyrical, telling stories through memorable musical lines often influenced by the collaborator’s story, nature, and poetry.

Brandon has been commissioned to write solo and chamber works, concertos, and opera. Her music appears on over 20 albums, and has been awarded the Sorel Medallion, American Prize, Paderewski Cycle, Women Composers Festival of Hartford International Composition Competition, and Bassoon Chamber Music Composition Competition, among others. Her works are published and distributed by Boosey & Hawkes, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Graphite Publishing, TrevCo Music Publishing, Imagine Music, J.W. Pepper, and June Emerson. She runs Jenni Brandon Music, which publishes and distributes her works.

As a conductor, Brandon often conducts her own works and works by other living composers. In 2019 she conducted her one-act opera 3 PADEREWSKIS in the Terrace Theater at the Kennedy Center in Washington D. C. She also presents workshops and talks on collaboration and the business of music, striving to create a supportive environment where collaboration leads to exploration of ideas.

Brandon received her undergraduate degree in Music Composition at West Chester University in Pennsylvania and her Master of Music in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin. She did doctoral work at the University of Southern California.

When she is not making music, Brandon is often on her yoga mat, either practicing or teaching yoga.


Karola Obermüller

The music of Karola Obermüller, described by the New York Times as "hyperkinetic music,” is constantly in search of the unknown, often with layers and layers of obscured material buried deep underneath a surface, which is at times sumptuous and other times bristling with rhythmic energy. Her unique voice began forming in collages of sound made with tape recorders as a child, and evolved later with composition degrees from the Meistersinger-Konservatorium Nürnberg, the Hochschule für Musik Saar, and the University Mozarteum Salzburg. Her sense of rhythm and form was forever changed by studying Carnatic and Hindustani classical music in Chennai and Delhi India.

A Ph.D. at Harvard University brought Obermüller to the U.S. where she now teaches at the University of New Mexico, co-directing the composition area. She also lives and works part of the year in Europe and has been a visiting artist at ZKM, Deutsche Akademie Rom, Centro Tedesco di studi Veneziani, Akademie Schloss Solitude, and IRCAM.

Obermüller’s music, often political and always dramatic, includes operas for Staatstheater Nürnberg, Theater Bielefeld, Theater Bonn, and Stuttgart’s Musik der Jahrhunderte. The emotional juxtapositions of story suspended in a tableau architecture that one finds in her operas can be heard in her concert works as well. These include commissions from the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fromm Music Foundation, New Music USA, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Saarländischer Rundfunk, and numerous renowned soloists and ensembles.


Lisa Bielawa

Composer, producer, and vocalist Lisa Bielawa is a Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition and takes inspiration for her work from literary sources and close artistic collaborations. Her music has been described as “rumina- tive, pointillistic and harmonically slightly tart” by The New York Times. She is the recipient of the 2017 Music Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and a 2020 Discovery Grant from OPERA America. She received a 2018 Los Angeles Area Emmy nomination for her unprecedented, made-for-TV-and-online opera Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser, created with librettist Erik Ehn and director Charles Otte.

Bielawa consistently executes work that incorporates community-making as part of her artistic vision, including Broadcast from Home, a large-scale interactive work in response to the coronavirus pandemic crisis. She has also created music for public spaces in Lower Manhattan, the banks of the Tiber River in Rome, and on the sites of former airfields in Berlin to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Her music has premiered at the New York Philharmonic Biennial, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, SHIFT Festival, and Naumburg Orchestral Concerts, among others.

Bielawa began touring as the vocalist with the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1992; and in 2019 she was the inaugural Composer-in-Residence and Chief Curator of the Philip Glass Institute at The New School. In 1997 Bielawa co-founded the MATA Festival, which celebrates the work of young composers. And for five years, she was the artistic director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus.


Cecilia Arditto

Cecilia Arditto studied music at the Conservatorio Julián Aguirre, in CEAMC Buenos Aires and at the Conservatory of Amsterdam (cum laude). She has been living in Amsterdam since 2002. Arditto’s music is performed all over the world: Gaudeamus Festival (Holland), Borealis Festival (Norway), Darmstädter Ferienkurse (Germany), Innovations en Concert (Canada), and Festival Rümlingen (Switzerland), among others. She has been an artist in residence in Camargo France, in Boswil Switzerland, and in Berga Spain. Recent prizes include New Maker Ensemble Call for scores (London), Low Frequency Trio competition (Mexico), Wilde Lieder Marx Music Competition by the Birmingham Con- temporary Music Group (U.K.), and Festival Mujeres en la Música 2020 (Colombia). She is a finalist in the Rychenberg Competi- tion 2020 with her work for orchestra, Tissue. And her work, Musique Concréte, was selected to represent Holland at the ISCM World Music Days Festival 2022 in New Zealand.

Arditto is fascinated by sounds in general, those of musical instruments but also those of other objects; and she translates these sonic experiences into music notation. “Writing music for a ventilator that sounds different every time is much more challenging than writing music for a whole orchestra!” In her music, notation does not just describe a sound result, but it also brings extra musical actions to the score, like movements, lights, and space design.

Since 1998, Arditto has performed in a duo with flutist Adriana Montorfano, exploring music in between categories. She is also a yoga teacher, combining her yoga classes with her concerts all over the world.




Midwest Record

Ah, what hi res mastering can do for these solo recitals with instruments you don’t often think of as front and center axes. The oboist shifts to English horn for a set of premiere works and recordings that finds her front and center and knowing how to use that spotlight well. Masterfully played delivering all the sound and expression you need on her own, this recital is for music fans who like it up market but don‘t need to be eggheads. A lovely piece of art throughout.

— Chris Spector, 10.05.2020

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