Program Notes

Arno Bornkamp  10:00 am Saturday

Around three years ago saxophonist Arno Bornkamp was listening to the Sonata for cello solo by Zoltan Kodaly, a composition with a 'total' musical concept, that exploits the cello to it's fullest extent. At the same time he realized that the saxophone family includes a member with a similar variety of musical possibilities as the cello, the baritone saxophone, but that it didn't have the repertoire to show that. So, he took up the initiative and decided to commission eight composers that he regarded as close to him to write a new piece for the bari and asked them to open up a (new?) perspective for the instrument. The first composer that he commissioned was Gregory Wanamaker. They met and first discussed the project at the 2018 International Music and Aestheics Symposium in Gainesville, organized by Jonathan Helton of the University of Florida. Subsequently, Peter Vigh, JacobTV, Ryo Noda and André Arends were the other commissioned composers from the classical side and Jan Menu, Katharina Thomsen and Branford Marsalis became the jazz composers involved. Next to that Arno asked his buddy from the late Aurelia Saxophone Quartet (1982-2017) André Arends to create a theatrical, multimedial concept around this musical 'heart': 'Little Big Horn' (the title refers to an album, made in 1984 by the great and legendary jazz baritonist Gerry Mulligan). Theme of the project is the 'emancipation' of the baritone and next to that it also researches the position of the present musician in general and of Arno Bornkamp in particular. The premiere of Little Big Horn took place on the 13th of December 2020, just between two lockdown due to Covid 19.

Jeremy Brown
   2:00 pm Saturday

Momentum was composed for and is dedicated to Jeremy Brown. In the fall of 2018 I was living in London and each morning would write in the quiet of the Music Room at the British Library. To get there I needed to make my way through bustling streets, dodging and sometimes stumbling through the crowds, until realizing that one needed momentum and spontaneity to move forward. That daily experience influenced the athletic character of the composition, in particular the shape and direction of musical lines, its rhythmic changes and density, and the speed of the melodies.  These are contrasted with calmer more reflective passages, as if suddenly arriving in an open space, getting a chance to breathe. 

Banjamin Cold  9:00 am Saturday

She Sings, She Screams was commissioned by Susan Fancher, with financial support from the Austrian Ministry of Culture.  The premiere was given on 18 February 1995 by Ms. Fancher at a Kulturspektakel concert in the Stadtinitiative in Vienna.

This Piece represents the first work created in my own electronic music studio.  It was made using a Korg 05R/w synthesizer and Cubase squencer.  She Sings, She Screams is made of three large sections (or arcs) of increasing intensity, with a short coda.  The piece reflects my increasing interest in melody (in particular, melody using quarter-tones) and musical motion.

-Mark Engrebretson

Noa Even  2:00 pm Saturday

I’ve always been fascinated by the incredible stories of the cowboys who tamed the Wild West. Mary Fields, also known as “Black Mary” and most famously, “Stagecoach Mary,” was a former slave born in Tennessee who was one of the first black women to be awarded a Star Route contract with the United States Post Office. In addition to that, Mary was the fastest to hitch a full team of six horses, liked to smoke cigars, curse, and fight, she carried two loaded guns, had a “foul reputation for a woman” with “the temperament of a grizzly bear,” and was the only woman allowed to drink publicly in the local saloons. Mary was a respected public figure who fearlessly created her own path during a time when many African-Americans were shamed for even trying, and the path she blazed for herself from liberated slave to celebrated local heroine is one of my all-time favorite true historic stories. She was a strong, powerful, and deeply multifaceted woman. Black Mary is a galloping, roiling jaunt with pumping twists and turns meant to engage the performers entire body throughout the piece.                
 – Shelley Washington 

Derek Granger  10:15 am Friday

Joan Tower wrote Second Flight in 2017 as a sequel to her piece Wings (1981), originally for solo clarinet and later transcribed for saxophone. Tower’s inspiration for both works comes from the imagery of flying. In Second Flight, she highlights the saxophone’s expressive palette with extremes of dynamic range, slow to fast gestures, wide intervals that spin into micro-tonal trills, and moods that range from serene to frenzied. Tower writes that she was inspired once again “…to think of something powerful that flies high and wide above a large landscape.” 

Cindy McTee’s Timepiece was originally an orchestral work commissioned by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 2000, for its 100th Anniversary Season. In 2012, this adaption for alto saxophone and pre-recorded sounds was created by Kathryn Swanson, on a commission from saxophonist Carrie Koffman. The title Timepiece refers not only to the occasion and timing of its premiere, but also to musical time. A slow beginning is followed by a driving fast section, which is fueled by a clock-like pulse with tightly-constructed pitch and rhythmic structures. Ultimately, McTee writes, “Discipline yields to improvisation, and perhaps most importantly, humor takes its place comfortably along side the grave and earnest.”

Joshua Heaney  3:00 pm Friday

Lights will find you explores the interaction of visual and musical phenomena. As the music is played, lights swell, flicker, grow, and change.

Composer and pianist Robin McLaughlin has had work performed throughout the United States and Canada, and has been recognized by ASCAP and the American Composers Forum. Drawing musical inspiration from metaphor and the sacred, her music is imaginative and energetic. In addition to her work as a composer, she is the pianist for Catchfire Collective, an innovative chamber ensemble based in North Carolina.
Robin recently released God With Us, an album of chamber music originally composed to underscore the scripture readings at the 2019 Lessons and Carols Service at Hope Chapel in Greensboro, NC. She also recently premiered her new chamber sextet, Falling Up, with her ensemble, the Catchfire Collective. She has held residencies at Arts Letters and Numbers and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has been a fellow at the Norfolk New Music Workshop and the University of Nebraska Lincoln Chamber Music Institute, and was one of the participants at the Lake George Music Festival’s inaugural composers’ institute. Robin’s music has been presented at Nief-Norf’s Genre Lines summit, as well as the 2020 and 2018 NASA Biennial Conferences. Her saxophone quartet On This Day won the American Composer’s Forum’s Showcase Award, and was performed in Minneapolis in May 2017 by the ANCIA Saxophone Quartet. Other recent projects include a piece for flute and lighting design for Krisztina Dér’s flute/light project, and a piece for clarinet and actor for clarinetist Kyle Kostenko, and a saxophone and fixed media piece for Emily Loboda. 

Robin received her Masters in Music Composition from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a dual-BM in Music Composition and Music Education from Houghton College. Upcoming projects include a new percussion solo for Isaac Pyatt.

Jonathan Helton & Jasmin Arakawa  11:00 am Saturday

Low-latency, online musical collaboration has been under development for many years. During the current pandemic, interest in this technology has soared and developers have redoubled their efforts to improve their platforms as more people seek to use them.

This presentation uses SoundJack (https://www.soundjack.eu/) to create a lag-free connection between the performers. Other low-latency tech referenced in this presentation:  JamKazam, JackTrip, Jumulus, Sonobus, LaLo.

Carrie Koffman & Elisabeth Tomczyk  3:00 pm Saturday

Notorious RBG and the Supremes

Program Note by Tawnie Olson:
People ask me sometimes, when — when do you think it will it be enough? When will there be enough women on the court? And my answer is when there are nine. – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
 Supreme was composed as a tribute to three of the justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court of the United States: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. Each of their names is encoded in the piece using a mixture of solfège and pitches’ letter names: RBG (D, Bb, G), SOniA SOToMAyoR (G, A, G, Bb, Eb, D), and ELEnA kAGAn (E, A, E, A, A, G, A). Although I didn’t intend the music to suggest a linear narrative, it is possible that you may hear upbeat confidence (with perhaps a hint of swagger), introspection, and struggle in this piece. How each of those things might relate to the justices, their lives, their time on the court, is up to you, the listener, to decide.
 Supreme was commissioned and inspired by Carrie Koffman, and is dedicated to her.
Program Note by James Ginsburg:
The letter on which My Dearest Ruth is based was my father’s last written statement. My parents celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary in my father’s room at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on Wednesday, June 23, 2010. The following day, my mother called to say Dad had taken a turn for the worse. I flew to Baltimore the next morning (Friday) and met Mom at Dad’s room. The doctors came in and told us there was nothing more they could do — the cancer had progressed too far. All this time, Dad kept repeating one word: “Home.” So we made arrangements to bring him back to our apartment in Washington, D.C. While collecting his belongings from the hospital room, Mom pulled open the drawer next to Dad’s bed and discovered a yellow legal pad on which Dad had written this a week earlier:
My Dearest Ruth –
You are the only person I have loved in my life, setting aside, a bit, parents and kids and their kids, and I have admired and loved you almost since the day we first met at Cornell some 56 years ago.
What a treat it has been to watch you progress to the very top of the legal world!!
I will be in JH Medical Center until Friday, June 25, I believe, and between then and now I shall think hard on my remaining health and life, and whether on balance the time has come for me to tough it out or to take leave of life because the loss of quality now simply overwhelms. I hope you will support where I come out, but I understand you may not. I will not love you a jot less.
I should note one factual error: my parents met 59 years before the date of this letter, not 56. Obviously, Dad had their 56th anniversary in mind. We chose to keep the number 56 in the song. My sister, Jane, and I commissioned Stacy Garrop to adapt the letter and set it to music as one of three songs by different women composers to be presented in 2013 as an 80th birthday tribute to our mother, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Soprano Patrice Michaels sang the premiere at the Supreme Court with pianist Dana Brown on Saturday, April 6, 2013. –J.G.
Composer Bios:

Described as "especially glorious... ethereal" by Whole Note, and "a highlight of the concert" by the Boston Musical Intelligencer, the music of Canadian composer Tawnie Olson draws inspiration from politics, spirituality, the natural world, and the musicians for whom she composes. She has received commissions from the Canadian Art Song Project, Third Practice/New Music USA, the Canada Council for the Arts, Mount Holyoke College/The Women’s Philharmonic, the Blue Water Chamber Orchestra, and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music’s Robert Baker Commissioning Fund, among others. In 2017, she received an OPERA America Discovery Grant to develop a new work with re:Naissance Opera, and a Canada Council for the Arts Professional Development Grant to study field recording at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. She is the composer-in-residence of the 2018 Women Composers Festival of Hartford. Her music is performed on five continents, and can also be heard on recordings by the Canadian Chamber Choir, soprano Magali Simard-Galdès, percussionist Ian David Rosenbaum, bassoonist Rachael Elliott, oboist Catherine Lee, and Shawn Mativetsky, McGill professor of tabla and percussion. Her scores are available from the Canadian Music Centre, Galaxy Music, Mark Foster/Hal Leonard, and E.C. Schirmer (O Inexpressible Mystery - forthcoming). Olson is an adjunct professor of composition at The Hartt School.
Stacy Garrop’s music is centered on dramatic and lyrical storytelling. The sharing of stories is a defining element of our humanity; we strive to share with others the experiences and concepts that we find compelling. Stacy shares stories by taking audiences on sonic journeys – some simple and beautiful, while others are complicated and dark – depending on the needs and dramatic shape of the story.
Stacy is the first Emerging Opera Composer of Chicago Opera Theater’s new Vanguard Initiative for 2018-2020, during which she is composing two chamber operas with Chicago librettist Jerre Dye. Theodore Presser Company publishes her chamber and orchestral works; she self-publishes her choral pieces under Inkjar Publishing Company. Stacy is a Cedille Records artist with pieces currently on ten CDs; her works are also commercially available on ten additional labels. Stacy has received an Arts and Letters Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Fromm Music Foundation Grant, Barlow Prize, and three Barlow Endowment commissions, along with prizes from competitions sponsored by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Omaha Symphony, New England Philharmonic, Boston Choral Ensemble, Utah Arts Festival, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and Sorel Organization.
Stacy’s catalog covers a wide range, with works for orchestra, opera, oratorio, wind ensemble, choir, art song, and various sized chamber ensembles including string quartet, piano trio, and saxophone works. She has been commissioned and performed by the Albany Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra, and Minnesota Orchestra; by Capitol Saxophone Quartet, Gaudete Brass Quintet, and Kronos Quartet; and by Chanticleer, Chicago a cappella, and Volti.
Stacy earned degrees in music composition at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (B.M.), University of Chicago (M.A.), and Indiana University-Bloomington (D.M.). She taught composition full-time at Roosevelt University from 2000 to 2016 before leaving to launch her freelance career. For more information, please visit her website at www.garrop.com or her all-things- composition blog at www.composerinklings.com/

Shyen Lee  1:30 pm Friday

Ban Leng Rock Fantasie was written for sop and alto saxophone with electronic Rock band. This genre of the rock is so called progressive rock. Wisuwat composed it with the material from Thai flavor melody. Bun Leng, from Thai language, means to play or to perform music. Composer would like to feature the saxophone’s various tone color and capability of extended techniques. There is a 360 video version at https://youtu.be/ckrZQz_DaSQ

Paul Lessard  3:00 pm Friday

These two works from the closing years of the twentieth century (the solo saxophone version of "My Mountain Top" was completed in 2001, but the original version for saxophone quartet predates it by three years) juxtapose two different compositional approaches to the interplay between saxophone and voice in pieces for tenor saxophone and fixed electronics. While both of these works prominently feature and could be said to be ‘about’ their respective texts, the composers have approached the task in very different ways.

Andy Scott’s "My Mountain Top" features the poem of the same name by Lemn Sissay. So as not to interfere with the text’s meaning and delivery, the saxophone largely stays out of the way, decorating around the text without conflicting with it. Sissay himself recites the poem himself as part of the fixed media track (at the work’s premiere in 1998, he performed the poem live alongside the Apollo Saxophone Quartet).

"Grab It!" by Jacob TV, by contrast, often uses the saxophone in unison with the voice – as exemplified at the work’s outset with its signature line “Grab it, motherf*cker!” Doubling the voice in this way has the additional effect of solidifying the voice’s pitch motion. Even though the human voice does not exactly align with pitch collections the way one would expect in Western Art Music, combining it with an instrumental part that follows the rhythm and general contour of the voice, while still being locked into the twelve-note Western chromatic scale, will give the aural impression that the voice uses this pitch collection as well. This effect is analogous to the “grouping” ideas from Gestalt Theory, which suggest that the human mind will group together elements – in this case the vocal and saxophone parts – if they satisfy principles of “proximity, similarity, and good continuation” (Deutsch, 2013). 

Joshua Thomas & Simon Holt  10:15 am Friday

The Smart Repertoire Project was started in 2019 with the intention of creating new works for intermediate level saxophone. It gives predefined guidelines to composers, such as using no altissimo and creating accessible piano parts, to provide high quality music for students that are still developing into the instrument’s standard repertoire. The project uses a consortium model for funding, that to date has involved over 100 saxophonist. The works presented today represent three of the four works commissioned thus far.

Sonatina (2020) by Denis Bédard, was commissioned for the 2020-2021 Smart Repertoire Project. This three movement work is technically approachable by younger saxophonists, but features challenging key signatures of five and four sharps to go with a myriad of accidentals. The piano accompaniment is quite accessible, and should be playable in a short amount of time.  Each movement offers opportunity for the soloist to incorporate expressive playing into melodic sections to balance out spurts of technique. 

Dangerous Coats (2020) by Jessica Rudman, was inspired by a poem of the same name by Sharon Owens. The poem talks about how women weren’t allowed to have pockets because they might use them to carry seditious materials. At the end, the author encourages women to start sewing “dangerous coats full of pockets and sedition.” It led me to envision a growing cabal of women gleefully sneaking around with their pockets filled with colorful flyers about equality and similarly ‘treasonous’ ideas.

The opening music seeks to convey the energetic rush I imagined such women would feel. A contrasting, slower section follows. A bit darker, perhaps it represents the quiet tragedy of an unfulfilled life, a life pretending to be something you are not. But then the original materials returns, sweeping forward with irrepressible excitement to the end.

Notes by Jessica Rudman

From other Futures (2020) by John Anthony Lennon, borrows from the ancient idea of music of the spheres - that time and sound and space and light work together in proportional movements to create a type of music. This piece written for alto saxophone and piano begins with (colors in the wind) an allusion to the sound of the saxophone as the music begins to emerge. The second, slow movement (another time, another place) refers to perspective changing and how sound is heard in different way. The final movement (heliotrope chases) is an image of the colors of the saxophone joining the cosmos to chase the spheres. Following the third movement is an optional encore. Til the end offers a brief flourish to echo in the ear after the performance has concluded.

Notes by John Anthony Lennon


James Umble  1:30 pm Friday

The composer, Andrew Mead, writes:
"I wrote Sonata Brevis for James Umble, who had asked me for a new solo alto saxophone piece.  I had an idea for a compact four-movement sonata, with a bravura first movement, a scherzo with abrupt shifts of character and point of view as a second movement, a broadly paced and introspective third movement, and a kind of graceful yet off-kilter dancelike finale.  A central inspiration for this piece was Jim's playing, intensely lyrical, wide-ranging in its expression, with the ability to move with ease through all the registers of the instrument." 

This work, like all of Andrew Mead's music, reflects his career-long and renowned scholarship into twelve-tone and serial music. Andrew hears music in twelve equal tones. In his own scores, however, he moves beyond the rigor of such a system and instead explores atonal music (frequently organized by hexachords) that is highly expressive, emotive, gestural and lyrical.The rhythmic language is often fascinatingly complex, and he utilizes the extended range of the saxophone frequently for expressive purposes.

Paula Van Goes  2:00 pm Saturday

Liduino Pitombeira is Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). A native of northeastern Brazil, Pitombeira has written extensively for saxophone and this composition as with much of his work is informed by the traditional rhythms, harmonic language of Brazil. The first movement of Brazilian Landscapes No. 7,  Caatinga, represents a very dry and hot region in the central part of the State of Ceara in Northeastern Brazil. This music portrays the potential energy the inhabitants of this place have but it develops very slowly, perhaps because of the socio-cultural and political constraints. The second movement, Morro (hill), depicts the places in Rio de Janeiro where samba was developed and is performed constantly. This is also a a place where violence and death is many times present. There fore, this movement tries to portray the rhythmic richness of samba mixed with the sadness caused by violence.