by Pamela J. Marshall

for clarinet

Duration ~8 minutes


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Written for Grant Anderson of the Concord Orchestra, Returning was a Christmas present from his wife, and an offering I made to the Concord Orchestra Auction/Fundraiser. Grant chose the wonderful poem Natural History as the inspirational source for this solo.

I described the piece this way when I delivered it to Grant:

“The motivic idea that I focused on was the repeated concert G, the home pitch to which the music frequently returns. Then there’s the idea of the gently descending line, in soft triplets and a quicker rising arpeggio.

“I waffled on adding expression marks. At first, I was going to leave it more open, but then it became clear to me that I was hearing specific dynamic-level moments. Altogether, though, interpret freely, molto espressivo throughout. You’re allowed to amend dynamics if you find a phrase shaping that you like better.

Part of Pamela’s Poetry-Inspired Music collection.

Duration has ranged from 7 to almost 9 minutes


Listen to Todd Brunel playing “Returning”


by E.B. White, sent to his wife in a letter
and published anonymously in 1929

The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unwinds a thread of her devising:
A thin, premeditated rig
To use in rising.

And all the journey down through space,
In cool descent, and loyal-hearted,
She builds a ladder to the place
From which she started.

Thus I, gone forth, as spiders do,
In spider’s web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken strand to you
For my returning.


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