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Hemke Concerto "Prisms of Light" (2014)

For solo alto saxophone and orchestra

Solo alto saxophone, pic.2.2.2.1/2.2.2.1/[4perc]/pno./cel/str
First performance by Frederick L. Hemke (solo saxophone), William Boughton, conductor, the New Haven Symphony, in New Haven, Connecticut, on 27 February 2014
European premiere by Timothy McAllister with the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra at the World Saxophone Congress, Strasbourg, France, 9 July 2015
Duration: 22 minutes

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A PORTRAIT OF AUGUSTA READ THOMAS.

 

Hemke Concerto - "Prisms of Light" runs from 1:16-2:20

Program Note

Conductor William Boughton

The dramatic Hemke Concerto, "Prisms of Light" (2014) was commissioned as a retirement gift for legendary saxophonist and pedagogue Frederick L. Hemke by many of his students past and present. (Hemke was Thomas's colleague during her years on the faculty of Northwestern University.) Hemke Concerto represents a new high point for Thomas's pursuit of the luminous — the music truly explodes with sun-infused vigor. The four sections bear typical Thomas titles: Illuminations, Sunrise Ballad, Chasing Radiance, and Solar Rings. The work overall possesses a fast — slow — fast shape, with the duration of the first, second, and third/fourth (combined) sections forming equal thirds of about seven minutes each. The opening "Illuminations" begins with a blaze. The orchestra and saxophone interact spiritedly, with the orchestra often merging the saxophone into its glittering texture. The second section begins slowly and lyrically, and gradually builds in intensity to a sonorous climax. The short third section is a scherzo-like caprice and leads into the final "Solar Rings" — music that raises the energy and luminosity of the opening to a new height, before ending in one of Thomas's most ecstatic blazes. This concerto is music that almost requires the listener to wear sunglasses — exploring fully the saxophone's capacity for both lyrical, human expression and glorious, otherworldly color.

— Carson Cooman

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New Haven Symphony Orchestra

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