While James Emery may be passionate about the music he writes and performs, he’s not at all worried about how to categorize it.
“I just don’t think in those terms,” said Emery, who will share the stage with his daughter Hannah, a Skidmore College student, for a special musical event at 3 p.m. Sunday at Skidmore’s Arthur Zankel Music Center.
“Jazz or classical? I don’t know. I just let the music come. I let it flow, and it’s a result of my own personal aesthetics and musical experiences. I’m reluctant to classify it as one kind or another.”
Emery is an internationally acclaimed guitarist and composer, and his daughter, who will graduate from Skidmore next month, plays the clarinet. He has composed a piece, Double Concerto for Clarinet, Guitar and Orchestra, which he and his daughter will perform, accompanied by the Skidmore College Orchestra. Emery wrote the piece specifically as a duet with his daughter.
“It’s always better if you can write for a person and not just an instrument,” he said, “especially if it’s for someone you know. You know the abilities of the person, you know what they like, you know what their background is. A piece will definitely have much more depth to it if it’s for a specific person, and not just an instrument.”
‘Double Concerto for Clarinet, Guitar and Orchestra’
‘Double Concerto for Clarinet,
Guitar and Orchestra’
WHAT: A performance by James Emery and Hannah Emery
WHERE: Arthur Zankel Music Center, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs
WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $8-$5; free for students and children
MORE INFO: 580-5321, www.skidmore.edu/zankel
Emery has been a popular guitarist since the mid 1970s, and has written more than 100 compositions ranging from solo guitar and chamber music to symphonic works. He co-founded the String Trio of New York, which celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2012. The group has been featured on National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition” and Public Radio International’s “Concerts from the Library of Congress.”
Emery and his wife lived in Greenwich Village for 20 years, “where I really established my career,” and then moved to Warwick in Orange County soon after Hannah was born.
Winner of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Emery has performed around the world, and earlier this year made his Skidmore debut with his daughter. He’s looking forward to his return trip.
“Of all the things I’ve done all over the world, this is really special and unique,” said Emery, who grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
“We had a lot of fun last month just playing with a couple of her friends, and I’m looking forward to playing with her again as well as the Skidmore College Orchestra. It’s a very fine group.”
Hannah Emery grew up playing the piano before switching to the clarinet.
“She started on the piano when she was 6, and did that for a couple of years,” Emery said of his daughter, who attended both Warwick High School and the Oakwood Friends School before heading off to college in Saratoga Springs.
“She was quite a good pianist, but then her teacher moved away and we couldn’t find a suitable one to replace her. We would have had to drive to New York. But we knew she had some ability and the aptitude.”
After taking two years off, Hannah Emery was happy to jump back into the musical world.
“When she wanted to get back into it with the Warwick band, she chose the clarinet,” said her father.
“We were lucky to have David Dworkin give her a very high level of instruction all the way through high school. I don’t know why she chose to clarinet specifically. I suppose it just spoke to her in some way.”
Sunday’s program will include a performance of the orchestral masterpiece “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Mussorgsky/Ravel.
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]