Underwood New Music Readings: Composer Spotlight – David Clay Mettens

Composer and clarinetist David Clay Mettens is one of the seven selected composers for ACO’s 24th annual Underwood New Music Readings on May 6 and 7. His selected piece Sleeping I am carried… is based on a melodic fragment from Alban Berg’s Mombert setting “Schlafend trägt man mich.” Read his full program note here

Clay was kind enough to answer some questions for SoundAdvice.

Composer/clarinetist David Clay Mettens

What was your reaction to finding out your piece had been selected for the Underwood New Music Readings?
I was absolutely thrilled to find out that my piece was going to be read by the American Composers Orchestra as part of the Underwood New Music Readings! This will be my first time working with a professional orchestra. My piece, Sleeping I am carried…, has been read and performed by excellent student orchestras at Eastman, but I’m very curious to hear what a reading with professionals shows about the piece. It’s so rewarding to have a piece performed by different groups. Each new performance brings out new qualities in the music. I’m also really excited to work with the composer mentors and see the perspective they bring to my work.

What preparations are you making ahead of the readings with the American Composers Orchestra?
Over the last few weeks I’ve made a few cosmetic edits to my score based on suggestions from ACO’s engraving specialist. Otherwise, I’ve been trying to reflect on the questions that I had after the previous reading and performance of the piece: Am I really getting the balance I want in these two measures? Does this doubling produce the color I had imagined? Is the profile of a gesture in the strings clear enough? After a first performance, you wonder if these things are inherent in the score or just result from some particularity of the situation—the hall, the ensemble, etc. The answers to these questions help me to grow as a composer and sharpen my inner ear.

Follow Clay on Twitter and Soundcloud


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