The Operatic Saxophone turns one year old—celebrate it by watching opera

Two years ago when everything shut down due to Covid, I started watching the daily streams of the Metropolitan Opera. My interest in opera started before then, but with all the free time and the Met’s high production value, this was the perfect opportunity to dive into the world of opera. Outside of the knowledgeContinue reading “The Operatic Saxophone turns one year old—celebrate it by watching opera”

Listen to the Saxophone in Ambroise Thomas’s 1889 ballet, La Tempête

In 1889 Paris hosted the Exposition Universelle, a centennial celebration of the French Revolution. This was a showcase of the latest engineering marvels—the Eiffel Tower, technological advances—the telephone, and a showcase of the best of French culture. The Paris Opéra was slated to premiere Saint-Saëns’s newest opera, Ascanio, but the opera was not ready forContinue reading “Listen to the Saxophone in Ambroise Thomas’s 1889 ballet, La Tempête”

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”

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”

Sidney Bechet’s ballet “La Nuit Est Une Sorcière” is now listed in the database

Soprano Saxophonist and New Orleans native Sidney Bechet (1897-1957) is now listed in the database. Bechet wrote the ballet, La Nuit Est Une Sorcière, while he was living in Paris in the 1950s. The ballet received mixed reviews when it premiered in 1953. The mixture of classical and jazz themes confused the audience. Even moreContinue reading “Sidney Bechet’s ballet “La Nuit Est Une Sorcière” is now listed in the database”

William Grant Still is now in the Database

Composer William Grant Still (1895-1978), long considered “Dean of African-American Classical Composers” is now listed in the database. Still is known for inserting African-American folk songs and spirituals into his compositions. Two ballets are listed in the database, 1937’s Lenox Avenue and 1941’s Miss Sally’s Party. In Lenox Avenue, Still called for 3 saxophonists, Alto, Alto/Bari,Continue reading “William Grant Still is now in the Database”