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Chris Rogerson Clarinet Quintet Commission

Chamber Music Northwest commissions Chris Rogerson to write a clarinet quintet for David Shifrin and the Dover Quartet.

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Chris Rogerson’s Thirty Thousand Days

Posted on January 25, 2019 by Chamber Music Northwest

Chamber Music Northwest commissioned Chris Rogerson to compose a clarinet quintet for the Dover Quartet and clarinetist/CMNW artistic director David Shifrin. Originally, Rogerson thought the work might be based on Italian dance forms, but it took a very different shape. Here is how Chris described the inspiration for his work:

“Thirty Thousand Days was composed in the first half of 2017. my father, ever the statistician, prefers to think of life as a 30,00-day journey, divided into three equal stages. When my sister and I reached our 10,000th days soon after turning 27, he excitedly called to make sure we knew the milestone we had reached. With a sharp memory he recounted stories of his own 10,000th and 20,000th days. While we were amused by his enthusiasm for this seemingly random day, I came to realize the value of looking at life from a broader perspective. Thirty Thousand Days explores this idea of life’s three stages. In the first movement, I try to evoke the joy, innocence, and sweetness of youth. the second movement depicts struggle, coldness, and fury. Finally, the last movement imagines acceptance, resignation, loss, and love. In each movement, I constantly change the musical material so that no motive or moment is ever repeated; it is always evolving. While e may have memories, we can never again truly experience how things were.

“Thirty Thousand Days is dedicated to my father.”

Thirty Thousand Days world premiere performances were held on July 24 and 25, 2017 at Reed College Kaul Auditorium and Portland State University Lincoln Performance Hall.

Artists: David Shifrin, clarinet; Dover Quartet: Joel Link,violin; Bryan Lee, violin; Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, viola; Camden Shaw, cello.

Chris Rogerson addressed audiences in the 30-minute “Musical Conversations” prior to each performance; he also introduced the piece on stage during the program.

In addition to support from New Music USA, CMNW friends Carl and Margery Post Abbott helped fund the performances of this work. The recordings of the performances are stored in the Chamber Music Northwest archives. While not approved for public postings, the recordings may be made available to listeners upon request.

Excerpt from review of Chris Rogerson’s world premiere at Chamber Music Northwest:

Oregon ArtsWatch





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Shifrin joined the Dover Quartet, now in their fifth season with CMNW, to perform Chris Rogerson’s Thirty Thousand Days. The title comes from his father, a statistician who “prefers to think of life as a 30,000 day journey, divided into three equal stages,” the not-even-thirty Rogerson explained from the stage before the performance. “It’s not an autobiographical piece: I haven’t reached my 20,000th day, or my 30,000th day.” He also joked that “you cannot talk longer than your piece actually is.”

Composer Chris Rogerson talked about his new work commissioned by Chamber Music Northwest at its July 25 premiere. Photo: Jonathan Lange.



The first movement started out as American as Copland, Reich, Ives… moments even reminded me of Jerry Goldsmith’s theme for Soarin’ Over California. The second movement turned turbulent, with “struggle, coldness, and fury.” The strings battered out flurries of sixteenth-note chords reminiscent of the scherzo from Schubert’s Fifteenth String Quartet, Shifrin’s clarinet gliding overhead with a troubled, bittersweet melody. In the last movement I heard a view of death from the perspective of a young man, which is to say death as viewed by the living. Perhaps no specific metaphors were intended, but I couldn’t help hearing echoes of “to dust we return” in the cello’s repeated descending phrase, strumming cool resignation on the open strings. At the very end, the first violin finally perfected the molto cantabile melody it’s been developing over the course of the movement, refining it into a singing, upper register sigh of “loss and love.” The second violin immediately picked up this melody, playing it in a lower register (the lot of all second violinists), modifying it into something a little more melancholy, questioning, and sorrowful. I couldn’t help hearing it as the passing of an idea or a spirit from father to son. I cried then, and I’m crying again now as I write it. Call your loved ones, folks.




Chamber Music Northwest (CMNW) has commissioned Chris Rogerson to compose a clarinet quintet to be performed by clarinetist David Shifrin with the Dover Quartet during our 47th annual Summer Festival in July 2017.  Chris has not yet begun work on the quintet, but his preliminary idea is to write a suite of Italian dances, approximately 20 minutes in length.

CMNW is excited to bring Chris back to Portland, as he served as our young Protégé Project Composer-in-Residence in 2015. As a part of his residency that summer, CMNW commissioned and premiered a new work from Chris. We were so impressed with Chris’ work and audience reaction to it that we immediately committed to commissioning a major work from Chris for 2017 or 2018. When Chris approached us about a potential project with the Dover Quartet – also former CMNW Protégé Project artists and Portland favorites – we jumped at the chance of having them partner to create this new quintet with David Shifrin.

Since that time, his career has skyrocketed: He has received commissions and performances from orchestras such as the San Francisco Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, New World Symphony and Buffalo Philharmonic. Chamber music collaborators include the Attacca, Brentano, Dover, JACK, and Jasper Quartets, artists such as Ida Kavafian, Anne-Marie McDermott, and CMNW Artistic Director David Shifrin, as well as members of the Guarneri and Orion Quartets.

He has gained a following in Oregon. His most recent commission from the Oregon Symphony was premiered in September 2016; his chamber work for violin and flute (originally premiered by CMNW in 2015) was performed by violinist Rebecca Anderson and flautist Adam Eccleston in March 2016 at a benefit concert for Bravo Youth Orchestras; his work has also been performed by Portland’s Third Angle New Music Ensemble. We anticipate an enthusiastic audience for Chris’s return to Portland. We will organize several free community activities and events for audiences to learn more about his work and creative process through a pre-concert “Musical Conversation,” as well as an informal “Coffee with the Composer” discussion, a masterclass with young composers, and a feature interview on All Classical 89.9 FM radio, among other activities.

CMNW makes a commitment to broader dissemination of each new work we commission through its recording and release. Each rehearsal and performance of Rogerson’s quintet will be recorded, plus an additional “touch-up” session, if needed. The quintet will likely be included on a new commercially released CD on Delos featuring new American clarinet quintets recently commissioned and premiered by CMNW, including new works by Peter Schickele (2015), Aaron Jay Kernis (2013), and Richard Danielpour (2016).

Chris served as the Composer-in-Residence for the Amarillo Symphony for 2014-2016. Recent commissions include a clarinet concerto for New York Philharmonic principal clarinetist Anthony McGill, Chicago Sinfonietta, the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, and Orchestra 2001 in Philadelphia.

Born in 1988, Chris studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, Yale, and Princeton. He is co-founder and co-artistic director of Kettle Corn New Music.

Project Media

Summer Night Music for Piano Quartet
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Features: Chris Rogerson

by Chris Rogerson


Duration: 20 minutes
Commissioned by the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington

Premiered by Jasmine Lin, Burchard Tang, Priscilla Lee, and Alessio Bax at Fasig-Tipton Pavilion in Lexington, Kentucky

Chris Rogerson: Second String Quartet, Mvt. 1 Canzonetta: Sweetness
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Features: Chris Rogerson


This recording is of the 1st movement only. The entire work includes:


Duration: 24 minutes

Commissioned by the Buffalo Chamber Music Society for the Attacca Quartet

Chris Rogerson: Second String Quartet, Mvt. 2, Intermezzo
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Features: Chris Rogerson


This recording is of the 2nd movement only. The entire work includes:


Duration: 24 minutes

Commissioned by the Buffalo Chamber Music Society for the Attacca Quartet

Start and End Dates



Portland, Oregon

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Last update on January 25, 2019

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Portland, Oregon
Now in its 49th season, Chamber Music Northwest serves thousands of people in Oregon and SW Washington with exceptional chamber music through over 100 events annually, including Summer and Winter festivals, concerts in alternative venues, outreach activities, educational programs, broadcasts, and innovative collaborations with other arts groups. CMNW is the only chamber music festival of…

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