Commission: Consortium led by Cassandra Hibbard
Premiere: Cassandra Hibbard, clarinet. International Clarinet Association ClarinetFest, Baton Rouge, 2011.
Instrumentation: Bb clarinet & piano
Program Notes: This piece is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, Psycho. The characters of Marion, Norman, and Mother are all represented musically. The basic outlines of the movie plot served as a template for the interaction between character motives and as a structural formula for the piece. All the music (except for the knife reference) is original, though I would like to think that Bernard Herman would have approved the fit with his original score.
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Film Synopsis (Spoiler Alert!):
As in the movie, the beginning appears to be about Marion. She is struggling through a moral crisis of stealing money from her employer and escapes to the Bates Motel. Here she meets Norman, a seemingly kind (if somewhat quirky) caretaker. The story quickly heads downhill as Marion hears Norman arguing with his Mother.
Marion’s murder in the now infamous knife scene is followed by Norman decending into guilt, confusion, and animus as he comes under suspicion from a private detective (who also meets his end) and Marion’s boyfriend and sister. The arguments with Mother increase as tension builds. The movie (and this piece) reach a climax when it is discovered that Norman is a schizophrenic masquerading ashis Mother (who died years earlier) and committing the murders. He is captured and the movie ends with Mother, having completely taken over Norman’s mind, quietly sitting in a cell muttering that she’d show them. “I Wouldn’t Even Harm a Fly…”
This piece was commissioned by Cassandra Hibbard and the following commissioning consortium, to whom I am deeply grateful:Cassandra Hibbard Alice Dreger Sandra Hassen Carolyn Hibbard William R. Rude Jeremy Wingard Jonathan & Elizabeth Augustine Jim & Rose Anne Childs Deborah Parker Ryan Stahl David Churn Leon Samuel Mok Paul & Lynn Nelson Scott Smith