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Oberlin Music Label Releases New Disc by the Contemporary Music Ensemble with Faculty Clarinetist Richard Hawkins

January 22, 2013

Cathy Partlow Strauss

OBERLIN, OHIO — The Oberlin Conservatory of Music Contemporary Music Ensemble, under the direction of conductor Timothy Weiss, released their debut recording on the Oberlin Music label at their DiMenna Center concert in New York City on Friday, January 18. The CD features solo performances by conservatory faculty clarinetist Richard Hawkins. Entitled A place toward other places, the recording took place in Clonick Hall, Oberlin Conservatory’s state-of-the-art recording studio, between 2010 and 2012. 

For this project, Hawkins brings together four American works written during the last quarter of a century by four generations of composers born between 1908 and 1982. Hawkins says, "I am so pleased and honored for my first recording to be released on the Oberlin Music label. This project presents some of the most recent works for clarinet and represents the four corners of clarinet repertoire.”

“I'm thrilled,” states Weiss, “to release the disc on the same day that Oberlin’s Contemporary Music Ensemble plays alongside our accomplished alumni-founded International Contemporary Ensemble in New York City.”

The CD opens with Elliott Carter's Clarinet Concerto, which was written in 1996. This is a timely release as Carter passed away in November 2012 at the age of 103. He was an enormously important American composer recognized with two Pulitzer prizes during his career. 

Two premiere recordings are also featured on the CD:  Benjamin Broening's Clarinet Concerto and Aaron Helgeson's work for solo clarinet, A place toward other places. A 2005 graduate of Oberlin, Helgeson’s piece is the inspiration for the CD’s title.

The fourth work included on this double CD is William Albright's Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet. 

Weiss explains the genesis of the CD project:  “Richard and I chose the repertory together. We started with the idea of recording Elliot Carter's Clarinet Concerto. In crafting the architecture of the disc as a whole, we liked the idea of each piece involving a successively smaller ensemble. So, the disc moves from concertos with chamber orchestra, through a chamber music ensemble, to a solo clarinet work. We also wanted to put forth some lesser-known composers. The works by Broening and Helgeson were written for Richard and the ensemble.”

“The finished product is a stunning collection of vastly different musical styles and personalities,” Weiss adds.

Hawkins says he is especially “proud to showcase Oberlin's new recording studio and highlight the professional-level talents of the conservatory students."

Weiss adds, "This has been an incredible collaboration with Richard Hawkins. He is an amazing artist and his playing on these recordings is truly outstanding. It has been a great thrill working with him on this project.”

The physical CD can be purchased online at, or by calling 1-440-775-8272. The album will be available for digital download through iTunes later this winter.

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