Instrumentation: saxophone quartet
Premiere: Donald Sinta Saxophone Quartet :: North American Saxophone Alliance National Biennial Conference :: University of Illinois, Champaign, IL
Cerulean was written for and commissioned by the Donald Sinta Saxophone Quartet.
Cerulean was inspired by my son Izaak. From the moment he was born, he was extraordinarily curious and inquisitive. He often looked around the room, searching for interesting objects, enthusiastically turning his head, and opening his big, beautiful blue eyes wide to get a better view of the world around him. He also loved (and still loves) to find and follow interesting sounds, including the sirens of passing fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances. In the first movement, Sirens, I imagined waves of sound approaching and then departing in slow motion, like some strange police siren heard through a baby’s distorted sense of time. The second movement is a simple lullaby. Rather than sing the same lullaby for him each night, I often found myself humming long, repetitive, improvised phrases that eventually, over the course of rocking him to sleep, coalesced into a more coherent melody. The movement begins with soft, hushed waves—different waves than the first movement. These waves eventually transform into something more ecstatic, as I imagine him making the transition from consciousness to the exciting, magical place of a baby’s dreams. Finally, I find the tune for which I was searching, played by the soprano saxophone and accompanied by a hymn-like chorale played by the rest of the quartet that has been slightly distorted, as if the sound has been refracted through the flickering flame of a candle that is warmly illuminating Izaak’s room as he sleeps. The final movement, Goof Groove, is inspired by this goofy dance he liked to do in our living room. As a baby, he would sit and awkwardly bob his torso back and forth in a peculiar meter while singing his own crazy, lilting tune; however, as he got older and learned to walk, he began to run and spin in circles, dancing and singing silly songs. I imagined the goofy bobbing of his infancy transforming into the spinning circular dancing he now does at four years old, eventually spinning out of control, finally arriving in a tired, happy, dizzy heap on the floor.