NEW MUSIC NOW: From Lidless Eyes (time knows no bounds)

NEW MUSIC NOW: It was a cold, rainy Saturday in Ann Arbor, and my reed quintet had just finished recording Douglas Hertz's newest composition From Lidless Eyes (time knows no bounds). This electrifying and captivating NEW work for reed quintet explores the way we, as humans, perceive time.

Take a listen and read the composer's note below:

From Lidless Eyes (time knows no bounds) was initially inspired by Julio Cortázar’s masterful short story, Axolotl. The story gives a first-person account of a man discovering and obsessing over the amphibious Axolotl’s secret life as they waste away in a Parisian aquarium. Cortázar’s work famously treats time in unique and surprising ways. As he contemplates the uninterrupted infinitude of the Axolotl’s life, he mentions that “The eyes of axolotls have no lids.” I found this analogy of lacking the ability to blink as a means of lacking a reference by which to measure time haunting, yet relateable. I was instantly reminded of the innumerable hours spent on overcrowded New York City subways in the company of people unblinkingly passing the time.

In creating this piece, I wanted to treat time similarly, avoiding clear moments of punctuation or progression. The piece’s forward momentum has to then be generated by other means, namely by the gradual, imperceptible evolution of ideas. Additionally, I sought to create music that captured the discomfort that I personally feel in contemplating what behaviors we turn to in our attempts to cope with the mundane.
— Douglas Hertz, Nov. 2016
Hello! I'm an axolotl. Click on me to learn more!

Hello! I'm an axolotl. Click on me to learn more!

From Lidless Eyes (time knows no bounds) was commissioned by my new reed quintet at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. Composed in 2016, recorded and mixed in Ann Arbor, MI by Douglas Hertz.

Visit Douglas's website to learn more and hear his music.


Now, you might be thinking, "I've never heard something like this before. What were those instruments playing?" 

You've just heard the sound of a reed quintet—a musical ensemble consisting of five "reeded" woodwind instruments: oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bass clarinet, and bassoon. The first reed quintet, Calefax, was formed in 1985 in Amsterdam, and several groups have followed, including the Akropolis Reed Quintet.

Calefax, the very first reed quintet c. 1985

Calefax, the very first reed quintet c. 1985

The reed quintet is an extremely versatile ensemble: it can produce a wide palette of colors ranging from gritty and powerful to delicate and soft—and everything in between. The instruments' differences can produce stark contrasts, like pairing the low honky-ness of the bass clarinet with the pure bel canto tone of the oboe. The five instruments can also blend together into a seamless, organ-like sonority.

My reed quintet is based at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. Performers on this recording include: Sagar Anupindi (oboe), Joey Velez (clarinet), Sean Meyers (alto saxophone), Saralyn Klepaczyk (bassoon), and special guest artist Eddie Sundra (bass clarinet). Eddie doesn't play with us regularly, but we were so glad to work with him on this recording!

Believe it or not (full disclosure alert!!!), we haven't come up with a name for our group! What do you think we should call ourselves?