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Ken Walicki

Ken Walicki is an American composer.
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White Rose- Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra

Clarinet, Orchestra




When I was commissioned to compose a clarinet concerto, my thoughts turned to what the subject matter would be. Having admired people who take moral and political stands against those who wish to destroy freedom and individual rights, my thoughts turned to Sophie Scholl and the White Rose resistance group in Germany during World War II.

The White Rose (German: Weiße Rose) was a non-violent, intellectual resistance group in the Third Reich led by a group of students including Hans and Sophie Scholl. They attended the University of Munich. The group conducted an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign that called for active opposition to the Nazi regime. Their activities started in Munich on 27 June 1942, and ended with the arrest of the core group by the Gestapo on 18 February 1943.[1] They, as well as other members and supporters of the group who carried on distributing the pamphlets, faced show trials by the Nazi People's Court (Volksgerichtshof), and many of them were sentenced to death or imprisonment.

Hans, Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst were executed by guillotine four days after their arrest, on 22 February 1943. During the trial, Sophie interrupted the judge multiple times. No defendants were given any opportunity to speak.

The group wrote, printed, and initially distributed their pamphlets in the greater Munich region. Later, secret carriers brought copies to other cities, mostly in the southern parts of Germany. In total, the White Rose authored six leaflets, which were multiplied and spread, in a total of about 15,000 copies. They denounced the Nazi regime's crimes and oppression, and called for resistance. In their second leaflet, they openly denounced the persecution and mass murder of the Jews.[2] By the time of their arrest, the members of the White Rose were just about to establish contacts with other German resistance groups like the Kreisau Circle or the Schulze-Boysen/Harnack group of the Red Orchestra. Today, the White Rose is well known both within Germany and worldwide.


Black Water

Clarinet, Piano, Electronics, and Slideshow;




Black Water was written in September 2010 for clarinet, piano, computer, and slideshow.  It is a reaction to the rape and destruction of our environment for monetary profit.  I chose the title Black Water after flying over the Gulf of Mexico in August 2010 and seeing the results of the BP or Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The water was black and shiny.  It was obvious nothing could live there.  It is the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.  The oil spill released about 4.9 million barrels, or 185 million gallons of crude oil.  It was estimated that 53,000 barrels per day were escaping from the well just before it was capped.  It is believed that the daily flow rate diminished over time, starting at about 62,000 barrels per day and decreasing as the reservoir of hydrocarbons feeding the gusher was gradually depleted.  The spill has caused extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats as well as the Gulf's fishing and tourism industries.  Skimmer ships, floating containment booms, anchored barriers, sand-filled barricades along shorelines, and dispersants were used in an attempt to protect hundreds of miles of beaches, wetlands, and estuaries from the spreading oil.  Scientists have also reported immense underwater plumes of dissolved oil not visible at the surface.

The term Blackwater is also associated with the Blackwater USA private military company founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark.  Blackwater USA was company whose employees committed serious abuses in Iraq, including killing civilians.  Altogether, there are documented fourteen separate shooting incidents involving Blackwater forces, which resulted in the deaths of ten civilians and the wounding of seven others, not including the Nisoor Square massacre that killed seventeen civilians.  A third of the shootings occurred while Blackwater forces were guarding US diplomats.

The music, as compared to the images, is somewhat happy sounding.  I did this as a reaction to how the media can take such a horrible event and spin it into a “feel good” happening. Even though the Gulf of Mexico is still impacted by the BP spill, the media has forgotten about it.  As soon as the leak was capped, it was no longer “news” worthy.

Black Water has a computer element that, optimally, should be heard in stereo. 

Black Water was created using Digital Performer 7.21.  The computer and click parts are sent through a D/A converter.  A stereo mix of the computer part is bussed through to the house system, while the click track is bussed through a headphone amp to each performer who is wearing a single ear bud.  

If the house system is mono and not stereo, a CD can be used.  The computer part is sent through to the house while the click is bussed to the performers.  Please feel free to add any compression and a bit of reverb to make the computer part warm.

Black Water also has a slideshow element, which was realized on iPhoto.  

Big Dog

Clarinet Alone;




Big Dog was commissioned by the Portuguese clarinetist Virginia Costa Figueiredo.  The piece utilizes some extended techniques such as alternate/microtonal fingerings and multiphonics.  The multiphonics are used in a quasi-chorale setting.  Big Dog is a virtuosic piece for Bb clarinet designed to show off Ms. Figueiredo’s extreme technical skills.



flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, electronics, and video;




Refuge was composed in 2013 on a commission from the Divan Consort.  The piece was written for the ensemble, but also includes a computer part and a video.  The music, while mainly consonant, is based on the principles of Spectral Music.  In “Refuge” the structure, rhythms, and pitch choices are based on the harmonic spectrum of the instruments.  The computer manipulates what the instrumentalists are playing and uses the harmonic spectrum in such a way as to change and distort the original instrumental line.  The piece is scored for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, computer, and video.  The flutist also plays alto flute and shaker, the clarinetist also plays claves, the violinist sings and claps, the cellist in addition to cello plays the tambourine, and the pianist sings, plays a Tibetan Prayer bowl, a spring drum and also claps.  The Divan Consort recorded Refuge in 2013.  Refuge was released in April 2014 by Albany records on their CD entitled Refuge.

The term refuge means a shelter or protection from danger and distress, or a place that provides protection or shelter.  It can also mean something to which one has recourse in difficulty.  Many religions take the concept of god as a refuge from the difficulties of life.  In Buddhism, refuge means to go to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.  The Buddha is an example of one who has attained the goal of enlightenment, the Dharma is instruction on how to get there, and the Sangha are those also on the path whom you can lean on for.

The performers also sing and play percussion throughout the piece.

Player 1.) Flute, alto flute, shaker

Player 2.) Clarinet, claves

Player 3.) Violin, voice, clapping

Player 4.) Cello, voice, tambourine, shaker

Player 5.) Piano, voice, Tibetan Singing Bowl-pitch F#3 (large felt-covered Tibetan singing bowl beater), Spring Drum, clapping

6.) Computer

7.) Video

American Carnage

amplified-flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano;




American Carnage is a piece that emphasizes timbre and rhythm. The essential pitch
elements are a pentatonic scale with occasional deviations. Traditional playing of the instruments
is simply one of a variety of textures and timbres that can be created. For example, a cello can play
behind the bridge, beat out rhythms on the body of the instrument, play between the fingerboard
and the nut in contrast to playing between the fingerboard and the bridge. These are only three
techniques that have traditionally been called “extended techniques”. My belief is that if an
instrument can perform these techniques, then it is not an extended technique, but rather they are
simply part of the repertoire of that instrument. Combining that with the concept that rhythm, not
pitch, is the driving force in music is the philosophy behind American Carnage. I hope you enjoy
the piece.

Each instrument should be closed miced and there should be an XY pair of mics overhead. Certain passages, essentially in the flute need to be “ridden” by the sound engineer. The fundamental sound of each instrument should not be altered, but rather simply amplified.

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