Musical Invective (2022)

Jennifer Stevenson.jpeg

There are many great composers we all revere. We've heard the three Bs - Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms - and some of the most famous and programmed composers of the world. But fame does not equal popularity, and critics of the day had many invective things to say about these artists.

Inspired the the male critic who also inspired the namesake of Whistling Hens, Musical Invective is a multi-movement collection of scathing reviews meant to amuse and bemuse audience members and music lovers by recounting their biting words in a vignette of the style of each composer.


I. Beethoven

II. Debussy

III. Webern

IV. Women Composers

V. Gershwin

This commission is sponsored by Mr. Wesley Green of Tucson, Arizona.


Letter From Beirut (2021)

Letter from Beirut was a finalist in the Composition Competition at the Darkwater Womxn in Music Festival in 2021, where it was written for and premiered by Whistling Hens. ​

When asked about her culture in a 2019 interview, the poet Lory Bedikian replied, “The word  ‘Armenian’ itself carries so much weight. It’s full of stone, dust, haunting faces, and shrill music— sometimes laughter. I can’t name it. I’m stuck just at the mention of the word itself. Let me answer by  explaining that what I write is immensely informed by the fact that I’m the daughter of immigrants...”  

Twining the melody of the ancient Armenian lullaby “Oror im Pahlahs” with duduk inspired  ornamentation, I've tried to capture this weight of history that Lory describes.  
While extended techniques are in no way required for a successful performance of the piece, I  encourage vibrato, at times quite wide/fast, on the part of the clarinetist. Especially in the final bars of  the piece, the clarinet part should feel as if it's being improvised. 


Dear Cousin - 

The country is on fire again. 

Today, rockets hit nearby. 

Lebanon is so small 

everything can be heard. 

For years we have known 

the language of bombs. 

But tonight, tonight it is quiet. 

The country is falling. 

People have fled their homes. 

Children are dead. 

Here, in the eastern part, 

we are safe, for now. 

Sorry for writing you late. 

Everything is shut down. 

I have no work. 

Indoors most of the time. 

We sit and wait for news. 

Our lights flicker on and off 

like the winter moon. 

People's hearts have turned 

hard as rocks. No one walks 

the streets. Only the old men 

at the corner argue until dusk. 

They are so close to death, 

they don't tremble as we do. 

For now, this much. 

It is difficult to write. 

Our ears are accustomed  

to explosions and running feet. 

But tonight, tonight it is so quiet,

so silent you could hear 

the strike of a match. 

-Lory Bedikian