Sea of Reeds, for two clarinets and piano (2009) | 15′


Commissioned by the Grneta Ensemble

This set of pieces were composed for the Grneta Ensemble (Vasko Dukovski and Ismail Lumanovski, clarinets; Alexandra Joan, piano) and are a suite of arrangements of music originally written for solo voice or chorus. I work in two musical words which frequently intersect—that as a composer and cantor—and so often write music for Jewish services, or concert music based on Jewish texts.  The first performance of Sea of Reeds was at the Juilliard School of Music in 2009; it  has since been performed many times by the Grneta Ensemble and other performers, and was included on the 2014 album of my chamber music with clarinet, also entitled Sea of Reeds. It is also available in an arrangement for clarinet, viola, and piano; I have also arranged some of these songs for violin and piano; and for voice with violin, piano, and cello.

1. “Hariu Ladonai” is a setting of the joyous Psalm 100, a poem which asks all the earth to give a “shout of joy” in praise of God. Link to vocal version

2. “Adonai Ro’i Lo Echsar” is a setting of Psalm 23, one of the most famous of the Psalms “the Lord is my Shepherd”—which is often used as a consolation for those in mourning.  Link to vocal version

3. “Dodi Li Vaani Lo,” originally for chorus, is a setting from the Song of Songs, the Biblical poem celebrating romantic and physical love. Link to vocal version

4. “Y’varech’cha” is a setting of the text used as a blessing from parents to children at the beginning of the Sabbath celebration. Link to vocal version

5. “Dayeinu,” also arranged from a choral piece, is based on one of the most famous sections of the Passover Haggadah—a song of thanks to God for deliverance from slavery to freedom. Link to vocal version

Arrangement of selections for violin and piano (2010)
Arrangement of entire set for clarinet, viola, and piano (2012)
Arrangement of selections for voice, violin, cello, and piano (2013)
Arrangement of entire set for piano solo (2020)

To purchase score and parts, contact Gerald Cohen:


Premiere: November 2009, Grneta Ensemble, Juilliard School, New York, NY
November 2010, Grneta Ensemble, WMP Concert Hall, New York, NY
April 2012, Grneta Ensemble, Ankara Music Festival, Ankara, Turkey
November 2014, Grneta Ensemble, Le Poisson Rouge, New York, NY (Album release concert for Sea of Reeds)
2015-present, Featured on PRI’s Performance Today many times
July 2017, Amicitia Duo, ClarinetFest of the International Clarinet Association, Orlando, FL

Sea of Reeds (Hariu) Score Sample (pdf)

thumbnail of Sea of Reeds (Hariu) Sample
Sea of Reeds (Adonai Ro’i) Score Sample (pdf)

thumbnail of Sea of Reeds (Adonai Ro’i) Sample

To purchase score and parts, contact Gerald Cohen:

PDF version of score and parts: $20
Printed version of score and parts: $35 + postage

This track is from the album SEA OF REEDS; information on purchasing the track or the entire album is on the SEA OF REEDS page.

“…I deliberately chose not to look up the translations of the five titles which comprise Sea of Reeds. Here, Cohen succinctly proves why the only thing better than one clarinet is two!   “Hariu Ladonai” continues the jazzy feel and flow of Variously Blue: the two clarinets (Ismail Lumanovski joining in) blend well just as the edgy rhythms and metres entice. An airy clarinet line and gentle piano—full of emotion—begin “Adonai Ro’I Lo Echsar” before the second songle-reed entry adds still more colour to the palette with discreet vibrato. This movement wants to find its way to a Broadway musical as the BIG love song. “Dodi Li Va’ani Lo” is the highlight, with the clarinets doing their magic together or apart; Joan’s left-hand—like the finest double bassist anywhere—keeps everyone moving steadily forward.

In much the same vein as “Adonai Ro’i,”, “Y’varech’cha” offers a most lyrical, somewhat whimsical waltz. The clarinets’ sotto voce effect is a tad too breathy for my taste, but the harmonizations more than make up for that slight quibble. “Dayeinu” is a marvellously optimistic finish, replete with a brief flashback to the theme from A Charlie Brown Christmas—or was that just my inner child hearing things?”

James Wegg, James Wegg Review