In March I had the privilege of visiting and working with the saxophonists in Dr. Paul Nolen's fantastic saxophone studio at Illinois State University. Here is a beautiful performance they gave in studio class of my Saxophone Quartet No. 2. Enjoy!
This afternoon at 4:30pm, the University of Central Florida Saxophone Quartet will perform my Saxophone Quartet No. 2 at the North American Saxophone Alliance Region 6 conference in Orlando, FL. The full schedule for the conference is available here. Thanks to Dr. George Weremchuk and the UCF Saxophone Quartet for programming this work!
As I detailed in a post here, Nocturne IV is a new work commissioned by the University of Central Florida, scored for saxophone quartet and flute ensemble. It is based on the fourth movement of my solo piano set, Nocturnes, and the work will be premiered at UCF on the following performances: Monday March 26th - 9:00pm University of Central Florida Woodwind Ensembles Concert Rehearsal Hall, Auditorium (116)
Saturday March 31st - 8:30am - 6:00pm University of Central Florida SaxFest Rehearsal Hall, Auditorium (116)
Best wishes for great performances with this unique ensemble!
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.
I'm currently working on a new piece for saxophone quartet and flute ensemble, a commission from the University of Central Florida. Indeed, you say, what a unique combination of instruments! It's an exciting challenge to create music for this interesting instrumentation. I've chosen to expand upon a movement of my 4-movement "Nocturnes" for solo piano.
As I started to think about material for saxophone quartet and flute ensemble, I realized that the music from the fourth movement of Nocturnes would score really well for this instrumentation. And, I have been wanting to expand on the "groove" section in the middle of the piece for some time. In this new iteration, the opening half of the movement (the slow part) will remain relatively the same, but the fast section will be greatly expanded and the work will end fast, not returning to the slower music like the piano version. I love driving and rhythmic music, and I'm enjoying working on this section.
The groove made me think of Michael Tilson Thomas, one of my favorite conductors to watch. He is always so engaged in the music, always grooving, and always having so much fun. I love it. I hope my fast, grooving music is as much fun as MTT and Tchaikovsky in this great HD video from the San Francisco Symphony: