What was I thinking? When Mozart was my age, as Woody Allen might have said, he’d been dead for 23 years; when Brahms was my age he announced his retirement from composition and drafted his will. And the final works of both composers included Clarinet Quintets. Actually, there are more Clarinet Quintets than you might realise, and composers such as Carl Maria von Weber and my friend Ian Munrowrote them, seemingly without any ill-effects, but still…

Omega Ensemble The Omega Ensemble at the Sydney Opera House. Photo © Pudence Upton

In 2005 I was in Brisbane for performances of a new piece I’d written for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. During a rehearsal break I found myself chatting to a young clarinettist who told me that he was founding an ensemble, because he had lots of colleagues who wanted to play chamber music and opportunities were limited. Naturally enough I offered to write a piece, and we agreed to keep in touch.

David Rowden did indeed found his Omega Ensembleback then, one of the best and most...

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