In the clarinet world, there is a wealth of solo literature available to performers. From Stravinsky to Martino to Penderecki to Bolcom, composers have sought to write solo repertoire that truly showcases the musical capabilities of the clarinet. One such composer is Dr. Frank Wiley, professor of composition at Kent State University. As an undergraduate at KSU, I became acquainted with Dr. Wiley and his work for solo clarinet, Invocation and Spirit Dance, written for and dedicated to my clarinet professor, Dr. Dennis Nygren, in 2000. When I heard it for the first time I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about it. My goal in writing this thesis is to examine all aspects of Invocation and Spirit Dance: rhythmic, melodic and intervallic content, the compositional techniques Wiley utilizes to achieve suspense and growth, and the challenges it presents to performers.
I took advantage of the fact that a living and active composer was available to me in the same city. Through regular interviews and e-mails with Frank Wiley I discovered more about Wiley as a composer, the deeper aspects of Invocation and Spirit Dance, and the vision he had of its performance execution. Wiley has written four pieces involving clarinet: Ritual Music (1990), Star-Fall Dances (1993), Invocation and Spirit Dance (2000), and Prizm (2003). I interviewed performers of these works such as Dennis Nygren, Erick Saoud, and Ted Rounds to gain a better understanding of Wiley’s compositional style and how performers respond to his writing. Through interviews, recordings, program notes, and score study I found that Frank Wiley’s compositional style is quite structured and driven by rhythm, ever evident in Invocation and Spirit Dance. This thesis first gives insight on the composer, Frank Wiley, in Chapter Two. Chapter Three is an analysis of Invocation and Spirit Dance, including performance challenges. For those interested in other works involving clarinet by Wiley, Chapter Four gives a brief description of the other three pieces.