Fantasia Circolare for Saxophone Quartet
Instrumentation: SATB or AATB Saxophone quartet
Written in February 2014 in Karlsruhe, Germany; commissioned by Dr. Alan Theisen, director of the Mars Hill Saxophone Quartet.
The Saxophone was my first serious instrument, beginning in the 5th grade. I, at least three of my siblings, and two of my nephews all learned on the same Bundy II Alto that still lives at my brother's house in Virginia. The Saxophone is part of my musical identity - when I sight sing, I still unconsciously do Sax fingerings. My earliest compositions were for Sax quartet. Written shortly after graduating from high school, I arranged show tunes and hymns, weaving them all together into some kind of strange, lovely, and super-serious Sax-mash.
This is the first work for Saxes since those early experiments. Prominent are extended techniques including key clicks and mixed, wafting multiphonics. For large sections of the work, however, I fell deep into the parts of the horn that I love - rich, organ-like homophonic passages, crisp, crackling compound time writing, and weaving, seemingly unending lyricism.
The title reflects the form of the piece. Relying on three broad, contrasting passages, the piece moves in a circular fashion. Each sequence is revisited in an exact order, one leading to another, with slight variation throughout. It is possible to begin anywhere in the work, play to the printed end, go back to the printed beginning and finish where you originally started. Each passage stands on its own and leads to the next in a never-ending circle.