I’ve always been inspired by light. There’s just something about things that flicker and sparkle and shine. Light captures our attention and brightens our spaces in ways that are not only functional, but beautiful. The juxtaposition of light and dark and bright and dim contrapuntal in its own way. We know that the way that a musical performance is lit changes how an audience experiences it - what if we made the lighting design an intentional a part of our music?
I’m writing a new work for alto saxophone and lighting design, and I'm putting it out into the world as a consortium commission. The piece will provide a multi-sensory experience that you and your audiences will find interesting. It will be captivating and different, and will compliment the interesting programs of music that you are putting together.
The tradition of multimedia art includes work by composers like George Crumb and Karlheinz Stockhausen, and being part of this consortium, you will amplify and support this tradition, and inspire future interdisciplinary creation among others.
The piece will be 8-12 minutes long. It will require two people: one part will be the alto saxophone part, for you, and the other will be the lighting directions that you’ll hand off to whatever friend you find to operate the lights. (This friend won’t have to be a lighting design professional, but they will have to be able to read music and operate basic hardware with their hands.) The two parts will be together on one score.
I want the lighting design to be intricate and interesting,
but I also want it to be accessible to performers without access to a few
thousands of dollars worth of equipment. You will have to invest in a
powerstrip and extension cords, some dimmers from your local hardware supply
store such as these, and light
sources of your own choosing. My instructions about the illumination and
brightness will be prescriptive, but the actual setup will still be a little
bit DIY. I anticipate that some people will put together an array of identical
lamps, some people might use a few strings of Christmas lights, and others might
use a few different types of light sources. Your own artistry and creativity
will amplify the creative vision. I’m looking forward to what happens.
For the live processing, you'll need a computer with Max-MSP, a small microphone to capture the sound of your instrument up close, and a way to plug into a stereo sound system.
I’ve written a lot for saxophone, and you can see some examples of my saxophone writing in my quartet On this day as well as in this work commissioned by Emily Loboda. I’ve also done work with lighting design in the past as part of Krisztina Dér’s flute/light project, another innovative collection of works for music and light that has in many ways inspired this project. Take a look:
I’m honored to have a few friends participate in this project as consortium leaders. They’ve generously given me their thoughts and time during the first stages of this project. Read more about them and their work!
Robert Hess is a Canadian saxophonist currently living in Toronto who is passionate about education, promoting new music, performing in various mixed ensembles, and arts documentation. He performs with the After Hours Big Band, LondON Saxophone Quartet, and other various small chamber groups. As a private educator, he teaches saxophone, flute, clarinet, and theory in person and online.
Robert has had the opportunity to perform throughout North America and Italy at the 2019 and 2016 editions of the Cortona Sessions for New Music. He has been the winner of numerous solo and chamber competitions, and premiered solo and chamber works for saxophone and electronics at conferences and concert series in Ontario.
Joshua Heaney is a saxophonist and music educator based in the greater area of Toledo, Ohio. He has performed throughout the United States and is also regularly featured as a soloist, having most recently performed with ensembles such as the Atlanta Chamber Collective, Atlanta Wind Project, and Georgia State University Wind Ensemble. A staunch advocate for contemporary music, Joshua regularly collaborates with numerous celebrated and emerging composers including John Luther Adams, Marc Mellits, Nahre Sol, Matthew Quayle, and Coleman Rowlett. He has also been featured with Atlanta’s Sound Now! and Bowling Green New Music festivals and regularly performs with the Toledo Museum of Art's EAR|EYE concert series. Joshua holds a BM in Music Education from Susquehanna University (cum laude) as well a MM and Artist Certificate in Saxophone Performance from Georgia State University, and is currently pursuing a DMA in Contemporary Music Performance at Bowling Green State University.
Joshua Heaney is a Conn-Selmer Artist Clinician and performs on Selmer Paris saxophones exclusively.
Taiki Azuma currently serves as the Adjunct Lecturer of Applied Woodwinds at Fayetteville State University, Saxophone at UNC-Pembroke and Woodwinds at Lenoir-Rhyne University. He has performed in venues/events such as Carnegie Hall, Smetana Hall, International Saxophone Symposium, Piedmont Wind Symphony, Florida Wind Symphony, Western Piedmont Symphony, Durham Symphony, International Double Reed Symposium, NASA Conferences, and ClarinetFest.
His teachers include Dale Underwood and Steven Stusek. He has completed additional studies with renowned saxophonist, Nobuya Sugawa, as a student of the 25th Hamamatsu International Wind Academy in Japan. He's the Global Representative for BREATHTAKING Co., Ltd woodwind products based in Hiroshima, Japan.