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Eastern Influences – contemporary works for soprano saxophone

A. Wright / contemporary, world

Website(s) : http://aliwright.wix.com/saxophonist / http://soundcloud.com/aliwrightsax /https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5eajBp6sWW_xBGSBcj1JFQ

Alastair Wright will present a recital featuring two contemporary works for solo soprano saxophone inspired by music from other cultures : Zourna, by Zad Moultaka and Duduk I, by Gabriel Erkoreka.

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Biography

British-born saxophonist Alastair Wright has been praised by Classical Voice of North Carolina for his “dulcet-like tone…with a luminescent sheen”. Most recent awards include the Birmingham Conservatoire Saxophone Prize, 4th Prize at the 11th International Music Festival in Padova,and winning the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Concerto Competition and the North American Saxophone Alliance Quartet Competition. His primary teachers include Naomi Sullivan, UK, Taimur Sullivan, US, and Christopher Creviston, US. He has played in masterclasses for Kyle Horch, Connie Frigo, Daniel Gauthier, Koens Dries, Sara Zazo, Rob Buckland and Miha Rogina. He has performed as soloist with the Sutton Coldfield Orchestra, the Birmingham Conservatoire Saxophone Ensemble and Thallein Ensemble.

More informations

The two pieces I propose to perform, “Duduk I” by Gabriel Erkoreka and “Zourna” by Zad Moultaka, explore and imitate the music and sounds of traditional Armenian and Oriental music. Through the saxophone, the flexible and colourful timbres of the instruments duduk and zourna are captured and re-imagined. The use of unconventional playing techniques really push the tonal boundaries of saxophone playing, taking it outside of its normal setting in classical music.
Upon hearing a performance I gave of “Duduk I” the composer Gabriel Erkoreka said that he was “very impressed by the beautiful tone (so close to the duduk), your excellent technique and, above all your musicianship,” and that it was “Certainly, one of the best [performances] I’ve heard.”
Erkoreka provides these program notes:
Duduk I is “based on the traditional modes/scales of Armenia. The modes nourish Armenian popular music as well as liturgical chant. Duduk is the name of the Armenian oboe, traditionally made of apricot wood. It is never played alone, but is normally accompanied by slightly bigger instruments called ‘drone-duduks’ which function as harmonic support to the main player only by holding drones for an unlimited period of time, the musicians using ‘circular breathing’.
The mellow and somewhat mournful sound produced by the duduk (although being a double-reed instrument_ is most similar to the timbre that, by the use of certain techniques, can be achieved by the soprano saxophone.
The piece deals with the ‘problem’ of providing drones that are not present as such, and sets its task to give the illusion that there is one. At the same time, this polarization between drone and melody, carried to the extremes, wills to experiment with the material in a way to reflect an equally extreme emotional background: The trauma stemming from a yearning for a lost homeland along with a sense of survival against all odds which characterize the Armenian psyche.”
These are the program notes for “Zourna” by Moultaka:
“The zourna is a small oriental instrument with a devilish temper. Its nasal twang, its non tempered notes and the virtuosity it requires have inspired the creation of this piece which was first written for the clarinet. In spite of the speed of the first movement, the difficulty of some intervals must always comply with musicality. One must draw a melodic line out of this flood of notes. In order to reach a continual expression, one must dare to use micro rubatos to avoid falling into a cool and mechanical play. Zourna players use the continuous breathing which is an interesting technique that can be questioned here.
The second movement is a slow internal meditation.”
I am certain that these two pieces go hand-in-hand, and would make for a most interesting recital. I believe that the character and musicality of these works will be somewhat unique, and will be an excellent addition to the program of events during SaxOpen.

Programming

12/07/2015 11:15 - 11:45

Cité de la musique et de la danse - Salle d'Orgue (29)

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Musicians / speakers

  • Wright Alastair / soprano saxophone (United States)

Program

  • Duduk I (Gabriel Erkoreka)
  • Zourna (Zad Moultaka)

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