SMALL CHAMBER ENSEMBLE - Language Instruction (2003) - cl, vn, vc, pno

Duration - 15:00

clarinet, violin, violoncello, piano

Commissioned by the Fromm Foundation for a consortium of: Contrasts Quartet; Present Music; Auros Group for New Music; Mallarme Chamber Players; SOLI Chamber Ensemble

The centerpiece was Derek Bermel’s ‘Language Instruction’ (2003), an amusing full ensemble work based on the rhythms and gestures of language tapes. The clarinet was, in effect, the voice on the tape, and the other instruments were the students — variously willing or difficult, competent or bumbling — who must repeat the phrases. Mr. Bermel spins this interaction into an increasingly chaotic fantasy that would have been perfectly at home on a program with Berio’s Sequenza III.
— New York Times
Derek Bermel is to be congratulated for making his mixed quartet Language Instruction (2003) a splendidly effective example of the theatre piece genre. The “plot,” a clever send-up of classroom teaching, brims with perfectly timed humor without using dialogue nothing is obscure or overstays its welcome. Best of all, theres musical as well as dramatic logic at work here. One can imagine successfully perceiving the work on a purely aural level without visual cues.
— New Music Conoisseur