Tomorrow I'm shipping off a score and parts to the University of Central Florida for "Nocturne IV" scored for saxophone quartet and flute ensemble (6 flutes, 2 altos, 2 basses, 1 piccolo). The work was commissioned by the University of Central Florida, at the request of saxophone professor George Weremchuk.
The piece builds off of the fourth movement of my solo piano work "Nocturnes." It was a fun and challenging task to write for this unique instrumentation, and I'm looking forward to hearing the result. Of course, the challenge when writing for a group like this is to effectively balance the saxophones and flutes - to write in a way that sounds like a unified group of winds rather than a separated group of saxophones and flutes. And while the piccolo can certainly overpower just about anything, the saxophone quartet could easily swallow up most of the flutes if not carefully scored. Hopefully I thought enough about these challenges while writing the piece to make the orchestration effective!
I felt like the material in the solo piano version of Nocturne IV lent itself well to winds. The mysterious and foreboding opening, with it's quiet intensity would score well for low flutes, all by themselves. Leaving the saxes out in the beginning of the piece gives the alto and bass flutes a time to shine without competing with the sound of the saxophones. The saxes certainly do provide the low end throughout, and provide a lot of the driving force that comes with the "grooving" fast section. This is where I really expanded the piece in this new version - the fast section. The form of the sax/flute work is essentially a two and a half minute slow section, and a two and a half minute barn-burning fast section at q=138(!). A tiny bit slower would be fine too, but it really grooves around 138.
Nocturne IV for saxophone quartet and flute ensemble will be premiered at the University of Central Florida, at their annual Central Florida SaxFest on March 31, 2012.