The Concerto for Alto Saxophone is my third concerto, which is somewhat ironic since I always said I didn’t like concerti and never planned to write one. This one was a particular challenge, though, since the Alto Sax was my primary instrument throughout high school and college. One might think that would make it easier to compose for, but I found I had to set aside my own limitations as a player, particularly the fact that I haven’t played regularly in 20 years, and explore the incredible virtuosity of the soloist for whom this piece is written, Joseph Lulloff. I wanted to showcase both his technical prowess as well as his extraordinary jazz improvisation skills, even going so far as to record and transcribe some of his improvisations during a collaborative session while I was composing the work. All three movements are constructed from a single motive, which is itself derived from the opening notes of Paul Creston’s Sonata for Alto Saxophone, a staple of the solo saxophone repertoire and something I played during my college years as a music major.
Movement I is an exploration of music that is simultaneously extremely quiet and extremely fast, inspired by the first movement of John Corigliano’s Clarinet Concerto. The middle movement grew from the recorded improvisatory gestures mentioned above. I reharmonized several of these to create a melancholic texture around the soloist, serving as the intimate heart of the entire work. Movement III unleashes the soloist and ensemble in high-speed interplay, again derived from the same central motive. Most of all, I strove to create a work that explores and celebrates the idiomatic characteristics of the saxophone.
My deepest gratitude to Howard Gourwitz for his generosity in making this possible, and to Joe Lulloff, Kevin Sedatole, and the Michigan State University Wind Symphony for bring the music to life.
Commissioned by: Howard J. Gourwitz as a gift to Saxophonist Joseph Lulloff and the Michigan State University Wind Symphony, Dr. Kevin L. Sedatole, Conductor
Dedicated to: Joe Lulloff, Howard Gourwitz, and Kevin Sedatole
22 April 2014, Michigan State University Wind Symphony, Kevin Sedatole, conductor. Second performance, 12 July, 2014, WYWOP at the Mid Europe Festival, Joe Lulloff soloist, Kevin Sedatole, conductor.
Solo Alto Saxophone
Standard American Wind Ensemble
2014 American Bandmasters Association Sousa Ostwald Award
This work is open to ANY soloist and ensemble, except for the following venues/conferences for which Joe Lulloff has exclusive right of first refusal for performances at: Brevard, NC, Summer Festival; 2018 World Saxophone Congress