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The San Francisco-based Sqwonk bass clarinet duo is a dynamic and adventurous ensemble that “pushes the envelope of what bass clarinet music can be” (Clarinet Magazine). Sqwonk is devoted to exploring the full expressive range of the bass clarinet, from deep resonances to raucous wails. While grounded in the classical tradition, Sqwonk’s music draws on a wide range of influences, from klezmer to heavy metal to blues to minimalism to free improvisation, creating a repertoire that is strikingly contemporary, yet broadly accessible to a wide audience. text
Sqwonk has been hailed for its “extraordinary…deftness and dynamic range,” (San Diego News) and its “perfect production of complicated interwoven lines, acrobatic leaps, and sensitive lyricism in difficult registers” (Clarinet Magazine). Sqwonk’s playing has been described as “…technically strong and very tight” (New Music Box) and “literally danceable” (Lucid Culture). Sqwonk has created an entirely new repertoire of bass clarinet duos from scratch, and has released three CDs featuring newly commissioned works by some of America’s most exciting up-and-coming composers. Sqwonk recently released its third album, Sqwonk+, which features Sqwonk in collaboration with six of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most inventive chamber ensembles.
Sqwonk has given performances throughout the San Francisco Bay Area at a wide variety of venues and events, ranging from CalPerformances at Zellerbach Hall, to the Switchboard Music Festival, to Café du Nord. Sqwonk has also performed around the country at venues such as The Stone in New York, Sushi’s Outsound Series in San Diego, the Bang on a Can Summer Institute in North Adams, MA, and the 2010 ClarinetFest in Austin, TX. Sqwonk was one of the featured soloists at ClarinetFest 2012 (Lincoln NE), performing Jonathan Russell’s Bass Clarinet Double Concerto.
Also passionate about education and outreach, Sqwonk has led numerous workshops and master-classes at schools, conservatories, and universities around the country. Sqwonk has received grants from the Northern California Composers Commissioning Program, the American Composers’ Forum’s Subito program, the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Sqwonk is an affiliate of the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music. Consider making a tax-deductible donation through them to fund future projects such as CDs, commissions, and concerts.
Bach, J.S. (arr. Sqwonk): Toccata and Fugue in d minor
Bach: Prelude from Cello Suite in G major, a la Steve Reich
Becker, Dan: Better Late*
Boots, Cornelius: Sojourn of the Face*
Brown, Ryan: KNEE GAS (ON)*
Dicke, Ian: Profiteering*
Fulton, Ruby: Swinging Door*
Gribble, Ben: Contannister Bellows*
Holt, James: Action Items*
Mellits, Marc: Black*
Novik, Aaron: Strict9*
Phelps, Benjamin: A Musical Offering*
Puntin, Michael: L’ultimo abraccio
Randall-Myers, Brendon: (de)focus(ed)*
Reich, Steve (arr. Sqwonk): Nagoya Marimbas
Reynolds, Belinda: Bark*
Russell, Jonathan: KlezDuo*
Russell: ...and the Beast...*
Russell: Double Concerto*
Schorn, Steffen: The Opener
Thomson, Ken: Undo*
Waitkus, Damon: Valediction*
Wagner, Richard (arr. Sqwonk): Wedding March
* indicates piece was commissioned by Sqwonk