Concerto for alto saxophone, string orchestra and percussion

Instrumentation solo Eb alto saxophone; 1 perc; orchestral strings
Percussion requirements vib, chimes, flexatone, anvil, triangle, lg. tamtam, lg. cowbell, hi-hat cymbal, 3 susp. cymbals (h/m/l)

Timing ca. 18′

Composed 2012

Commissioned by Julia Nolan with partial assistance from the British Columbia Arts Council

World Premiere April 21, 2012, Orpheum Annex, Vancouver, British Columbia. Julia Nolan, alto saxophone; Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; Bramwell Tovey, conductor

Performances by Vancouver Symphony, Victoria Symphony, Kamloops Symphony

Programme Notes

Eve HIn my high school concert band, I played alto saxophone. In fact it was the first instrument I really learned how to play. But in spite of that history, somehow in my professional career the opportunity to write for the saxophone never came my way, aside from its inclusion in one band piece. So when saxophonist Julia Nolan approached me about writing a concerto for her, I jumped at the chance.

While thinking about the instrument and scouting around for inspiration, I came across the word “brazen” and I was attracted by its double meaning. “Made of brass” was certainly appropriate for a saxophone concerto. But its other meaning “bold and shameless” is what got me thinking musically and provided character to the soloist. It suggests brash and defiant, sexy and seductive, calculating and manipulative. I was reminded of All About Eve‘s Eve Harrington, who, from Margo Channing’s perspective, shamelessly went after what she wanted. Yet is it truly “brazen” to have ambition and confidence, to take power, to go after what one wants? Or is it only deemed to be “brazen” by those who would lose power as a result? In Brazen, we see an Eve, wrapped in orchestral strings and metallic percussion, from many sides: through her own eyes, the eyes of those persuaded by her, and the eyes of those who would keep her in their idea of her appropriate place.

Brazen was commissioned by saxophonist Julia Nolan, with partial assistance from the British Columbia Arts Council.

PDF score excerpts

Brazen excerpt1   Brazen excerpt2   Brazen excerpt3   Brazen solo excerpt

Audio excerpts

Get music

Score $45 print, $27 PDF
Solo part $12.50 print, $7.50 PDF
Score + parts available on rental
To purchase or rent, please contact me.