Watch the premiere of Time of Our Singing, featuring Saxophonist Mark Turner

Belgian composer and jazz pianist Kris Defoort premiered a new opera last month, The Time of Our Singing. This opera is based on Richard Powers’ 2003 novel of the same name which tells the story of a mixed raced family growing up during racial segregation in America. This production is staged by the Belgian operaContinue reading “Watch the premiere of Time of Our Singing, featuring Saxophonist Mark Turner”

Opera’s influence on early “turcophone” literature

One of the first saxophone soloists is quite a unique character. Charles-Jean-Baptiste Soualle, aka Ali Ben Sou Alle, was a clarinet student at the Paris Conservatory who graduated in 1844. He took a job playing in orchestras in Paris before going to England with his ‘corno musa,’ aka the turcophone, which was really just anContinue reading “Opera’s influence on early “turcophone” literature”

Another Romantic ballet featuring the saxophone: Discover Ambroise Thomas’s La tempête

Recently I went through the Metropolitan Opera’s archives to see if they have any works for saxophone in their performance history that I have yet to find. During this search, I discovered Ambroise Thomas‘s Hamlet was performed for their inaugural season in 1883-84. Did they use the saxophone in the finale of the 2nd actContinue reading “Another Romantic ballet featuring the saxophone: Discover Ambroise Thomas’s La tempête”

The Voxman Project: Kenneth Tse features theatrical works by Weill and Milhaud

During the darkest days of the pandemic, good art was hard to find. Opera houses, once bustling with activity were empty. Gone were the spectacles of Verdi, Puccini, and Wagner. Fortunately, this pause in the usual fare allowed new voices and new musicians to fill the silence. At the University of Iowa, alto saxophonist KennethContinue reading “The Voxman Project: Kenneth Tse features theatrical works by Weill and Milhaud”

George Russell is now in the database

Composer, music theorist, jazz pianist George Russell (1923-2009) is now listed in the database. Russell is most known as a theorist, creating the Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization (LLC) which became the backbone of modal jazz in the 1950s. In 1964, he left the states and settled in Sweden where he was able toContinue reading “George Russell is now in the database”

How Charles Koechlin used the saxophone in Cole Porter’s ballet, Within the Quota

Earlier this week, I came across a ballet by Cole Porter, Within the Quota. When I wrote about it, I wasn’t sure whether or not it was orchestrated with a saxophone for it’s premiere in 1923. Since it was programmed with La Création du monde and orchestrated by Charles Koechlin, I had a hunch thatContinue reading “How Charles Koechlin used the saxophone in Cole Porter’s ballet, Within the Quota”

Discover Cole Porter’s forgotten ballet, Within the Quota

While researching works by William Bolcom and Darius Milhaud, I discovered an arrangement for band of Cole Porter’s (1891-1964) ballet, Within the Quota, published by Keiser Southern Music. Cole Porter wrote a ballet? Yes, turns out this ballet has a unique history, working both as a critique of nationalism, a celebration of immigrants, and createsContinue reading “Discover Cole Porter’s forgotten ballet, Within the Quota”

The publisher Edward B Marks Music Company is now in the database, home to Darius Milhaud and William Bolcom

As I keep searching, new works by notable composers get added to the database. The publisher Edward B Marks is home to American composer William Bolcom and includes Bolcom’s collaborations with Darius Milhaud. Milhaud’s output for this publisher is unique, as it includes new arrangements of existing operas and plays. The first work in thisContinue reading “The publisher Edward B Marks Music Company is now in the database, home to Darius Milhaud and William Bolcom”

How opera is instrumental to the “Évolution” of vibrato

For saxophonists, playing with vibrato is second nature in classical performance. But up until the 1920s, most saxophonists played with an even tone. Vibrato on the saxophone was limited to jazz saxophonists and vaudeville stars. In 1928, Marcel Mule was in rehearsal for Edouard L’Enfant’s ballet, Évolution and he had a breakthrough. What if heContinue reading “How opera is instrumental to the “Évolution” of vibrato”

The Jazz Problem: the shifting image of the saxophone in the 1920s

A couple of years ago, I picked up an old copy of The Etude from July of 1924. The editorial in that issue promised the next issue would be dedicated to jazz. I was one month too early. Luckily, the August 1924 issue is archived online. This issue is a great resource for jazz andContinue reading “The Jazz Problem: the shifting image of the saxophone in the 1920s”