By Daniel Dorff
For Flute, Clarinet in A and Piano
This piece was commissioned by Walfrid and Sherry Kujala, in celebration of the retirement of Helen and Richard Shanley from Baylor University. While beginning work on this trio, the composer was learning to garden for the first time, and had decided to spend the summer enriching his new backyard with perennials that he could plant once and enjoy forever. He was taken with this metaphor about building permanent structures and has always felt that composing is about building repertoire that endures, rather than popping out annual crops. Relationships between people, and between people and employers, are no different, and in celebrating the Shanleys teaching together at Baylor for many decades, the parallels between all these “perennial vs. annual” metaphors became striking. He had to call the trio Perennials to tie everything together – celebrating the Shanleys' lives and careers together, and everything else perennial about ideals in music and life. The five movement suite became something of a life cycle. There's some perennial music planted within, some subtle and some audible, most notably a recurring phrase from Machaut's Messe de Notre Dame (composed in 1377). The non-programmatic movements are: Joyous Overture; Romanza; Scherzo, Winter Prayer and Spring Awakening. The piece had its world premiere on October 12, 2011.