Zagreb is an amazing place, so friendly. The Saxophone World Congress coincided with the Croatia v England match in the world cup. There were huge TV screens on the sides of tall buildings and seated areas everywhere for people to watch. Great atmosphere.
The Congress was as inspiring as ever: virtuoso playing, and we saw more performer-composer performances than at the last congress. My last blog mentioned the "Cyber Bird" Concerto, here it is:
Quirk performed Smudge, written by our tenor saxophone player Chris Jolly, and Pieces for Five Players, by Richard Ingham. Every performance is video recorded at the Congress, so our performance should be available to watch eventually; it takes a few months before the technicians get all the performances online.
Quirk met a jazz saxophone quartet from the USA called Four: Mark Watkins (soprano), Ray Smith (alto), Sandon Mayhew (tenor) and Jon Gudmundson (baritone). During their performance Ray Smith played a couple of jazz impro solos; the best jazz I've heard for years... wow. Here's Four in action:
The soprano saxophone player in Four (Dr Mark Watkins) has recently published a saxophone treatise: From the Inside Out. It's a fascinating explanation of the physiological aspects of saxophone playing, giving a definitive guide to everything from traditional techniques (how to play low notes), to flutter tonguing. Dr Watkins used internal video cameras backed up with scientific research to give definitive answers to questions we all ask releated to our performance practice. Here's the details: Watkins, M. (2018). From the Inside Out. U.S.A.: Outskirts Press. It's on Amazon!
Soon we'll be flying to Croatia to attend (and perform in) the World Saxophone Congress. I've checked out the agenda, a week of exciting performances and inspirational people.
For quite a while I've had an old CD in my car that I listen to now and again. It's a recording of Nobuya Sugawa performing Takashi Yoshimatsu's Saxophone Concerto "Cyber Bird" for Alto Saxophone, Piano and Orchestra, Op. 59 (1994). One of the most amazing compositions I have ever experienced, and an inspirational performance by Sugawa.
Sarah told me today that Nobuya Sugawa is going to the World Congress, and is going to perform "Cyber Bird" with orchestra and piano! Wow, a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear it live...
If you can't be there to hear it, here's a link to a recording on Spotify.
Talking of inspirational events, details of the Sixth Annual Saxophone Day at the University of Huddersfield are on Sarah's website.
The Quirk saxophone quartet will be performing at the World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb, Croatia's capital city. We're rehearsing the works in our programme, which include works byRichard Ingham and he's joining us to perform them. We're also performing two works written by members of the quartet; Smudge by Chris Jolly and I didn't get where I was today by myself. Chris's piece is vibrant, rhythmic and exciting. As a quartet we love it. My composition is at the sketching stage. We played through a few sections at our rehearsal on Friday.
Challenging. I blame the rain.
The structure of my quartet is based on rainfall, with the implicit rhythms and complexity. A Messiaen mode (no harmonic resolution), a ten note phrase structure and a layer of accents based on significant events in a rainfall transcription doesn't easily lend itself to 4/4. So a large part of my work is in 7/16. Quite a challenge, as each saxophone part enters at a different time, with differing accents. Those saxophonists in Sibelius seem unfazed by anything. Whereas I found it pretty tricky to play the alto part in my own composition!
It's not all about textures. I have in mind a lyrical melody to rise through and float above the rain, for our amazing soprano player. I realise how fortunate I am to have a professional saxophone quartet to try out my stuff, such lovely people, offering endless support.
Best comment after a few play throughs: "It sounds like Gotkovsky". If only...
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