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Instrumentation: Clarinet and piano

Duration: 3′ 15″

Program Notes: Kalief (2021) is a short piece inspired by the tragic story of Kalief Browder. Browder was an African-American male and 16 years old when he was sent to Rikers Island, on a charge of stealing a backpack. Browder spent more than 1000 days there awaiting trial – including 700 days in solitary confinement – because he refused to plead guilty to a crime he didn’t commit. After prosecutors finally dropped the charge in 2013, Browder earned his GED and began attending community college. But in 2015, after three psychiatric hospitalizations and two previous suicide attempts, he hanged himself.

In January 2021, there was an insurgence at The United States Capitol Building, primarily consisting of angry, white Americans. A young woman named Riley Williams was accused of participating in the theft of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during the Capitol attack. She was arrested, but shortly released and allowed to stay with her mother, with an ankle bracelet, and could leave for work and some other court- approved reasons.

There is a clear imbalance between these two cases.

It is important to note the case of Riley Williams to argue that there are two justice systems in the United States: one for poor, BIPOC people, and another for more monied and white people.

Commissioned by the Willinger Duo and premiered in March 2021.

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