Canadian François Houle is coming to Seattle to play some of the most intriguing music composed for solo clarinet this side of 1950. The scheduled program is enough to make any fan of the post-war avant-garde drool: Giacinto Scelsi's Ixor, Elliott Carter's bratty Gra, and the late Luciano Berio's Lied. Additionally, Houle presents two 20th-century classics, Stravinsky's Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo and Olivier Messiaen's Abîme des oiseaux, culled from the 1942 masterpiece Quartet for the End of Time.

A master of extended techniques (chirps, multiphonics, circular breathing, etc.) pioneered by reedmen like Evan Parker and Seattle's own William O. Smith, clarinetist Houle also tackles recent pieces by Dutch improviser Ab Baars, UW professor Joël-François Durand, Bradshaw Pack, Messiaen pupil Betsy Jolas, and Houle himself.

When people ask me, "Why don't more people listen to this kind of challenging music?" I think back to unlikely places, middle and high school, and tally the hours spent on in-class listening to music ranging from Hopi chants to Breton fiddling to Pierre Boulez to the Burundi drummers to the Del-Byzanteens: which totaled up to zero.

If most people could trade half the thousands of hours spent reading so-so literary "classics" for the chance to listen to old and new music of all stripes, the above question would be moot. Today, music education mostly consists of piss-poor (or late-night) selections on the radio, the family record collection, haphazard word of mouth (like this article), and a willingness to take risks. If you want to roll the dice and explore the frontiers of solo clarinet music, this is the gig for you. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

François Houle performs Wed Nov 12 at 7:30 pm (Brechemin Auditorium in the School of Music Building, UW campus, 685-8384), $8/$10.