Jagged Little Fantasia
Instrumentation: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone, and Bassoon
As a saxophonist and a composer who writes a lot of saxophone music, I am the first to admit that I have a bias toward the instrument. It is a very versatile instrument that has several performance practices from Classical to Jazz. Still, one thing that it does not get is a place in the standard orchestral tradition. Yes, there are exceptions, such as Ravel’s Bolero or the occasional concerto that may or may not get programmed outside of academic settings. Still, classical saxophonists have formed a tight-knit community that is friendly to composers, so much so that their big conferences are essentially new music festivals. This piece started off as an exploration of the relationship between the saxophone and the other orchestral winds. It started off cynical, but throughout the composition process, I realized that the community of saxophonists that I have come to know are very inviting of many types of musicians. So this piece explores these relationships between saxophone and orchestral wind players and celebrates many of these traditions. Many of the quotations are easily recognizable within popular culture due to some of them being from Disney’s Fantasia. The piece takes a general free yet jagged form. As I reflected on this, I started to think more about Alanis Morissette’s 1995 album Jagged Little Pill, which I see as an angsty portrayal of her relationship with her youth. This piece works to do something similar but with my relationship between the saxophone and the rest of the orchestral wind family.
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