Dying of the Light: Pacific Resonance for Peter for soprano saxophone (2014) (soprano saxophone (Bb) [transposed]; 1 E-note crotales [sounds two octaves higher than written] with brass mallet or small Japanese temple bowl with bead striker; voice [at pitch]); duration: 5′ 00″
score available from AMC
program note My purpose in writing this piece was to create a work for my colleague—Katia Beaugeais—that captured the meditative stillness and living colour fluctuations of the Japanese Honkyoku tradition, reinterpreted for soprano saxophone as a tribute to one of my mentors—Peter Sculthorpe. The piece begins in the ritualised stillness of crotales ringing, as if being a Buddhist prayer bell, and emerges into glossolalia type chanting from the Judaic Christian tradition with shakuhachi-like explosions of air, panting and arch-like exuberant melodic phrases—peppered with grace-note articulations and flourishes to energize it. The ritualised crotales and chant sounds recur as restful refrains and meditative moments throughout the work, whilst exuberantly free bursts of Gagaku-derived Pacific harmony gradually reveal themselves throughout the piece; these climax in an exuberant and liberated athletic section utilising the rich colour range of the soprano saxophone. In quick snatches of sound, the climactic resonance gradually ebbs back to panting, ritualised chant and crotales, and distilled stillness that dies into a sub-tone flourish.
Commission note: Katia Beaugeais commissioned Dying of the Light: Pacific Resonance for Peter for performance at 17the World Saxophone Congress, Strasbourg, France in July 2015.