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Thomas Whitman

Thomas Whitman is an American composer
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Thomas Whitman (b. 1960) began his musical studies with cellist Harry Wimmer. He studied composition with George Crumb, Gerald Levinson, Max Lifchitz, and Richard Wernick, among others. As a Luce Scholar in 1986-7, he studied in Bali, Indonesia with I Madé Gerindem. Other prizes and honors include an ASCAP Foundation Grant; artist residencies at MacDowell and Yaddo; and commissions from many ensembles, including Orchestra 2001, Network for New Music, North/South Consonance, Mélomanie, and Dolce Suono Ensemble.. Whitman’s compositions include chamber music, dance and film scores, and six operas. He has served on the faculty of Swarthmore College since 1990, where he is the founder and co-director of Gamelan Semara Santi, the Philadelphia area’s first Indonesian percussion orchestra. He has taught Indonesian performing arts for many years as a volunteer in urban public schools, and currently collaborates with Modero Dance and Gapura Philadelphia to offer gamelan to Philadelphia’s Indonesian-American community. Selected recordings are available on Avie, North/South, and Albany Records. Sheet music is available through

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano

Clarinet, Piano



Subito Music

No Recording Available

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (2015) is a duet for equal partners that explores a range of emotional worlds. The first movement contrasts a spacious and lyrical theme, played first by the clarinet, against a jazzy theme, played first by the piano. After a development section the first theme returns, reimagined as piano harmonics. The second movement, entitled "Supplication," forms the emotional center of the sonata. It opens with a paraphrase of "Ohavei Adonai..." (Psalm 97), as transcribed in Sefer Hadrakhah by Charles Davidson. After the opening, which is like a call to prayer, the melody reappears three times, transmuted into different moods. It becomes hopeful; then angry; and finally, after a brief interlude hinting at a peaceful world just out of reach, it concludes the movement in a state of despondency. The final movement is a brisk and joyous rondo with variations, mostly in 5/4 time.
I am grateful to Charles Davidson for his kind permission to use his transcription of "Ohavei Adonai." I also acknowledge Swarthmore College for the support of its faculty sabbatical program.


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