Polar Vortex for Saxophone Quartet

Instrumentation: Saxophone Quartet

Duration: 9’30”

Purchase – Murphy Music Press

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Program Note:

Polar Vortex for Saxophone Quartet is a two movement work with loose programmatic ties to a winter storm in Michigan in 2014. The piece follows the timeline of that winter, beginning with optimism and peacefulness at the first snowfall that quickly leads to chaos and mayhem in the heart of the storm

The first movement, Snowfall, finds its mood through slow moving melodic and textural figures directly mimicking a short flurry of snow. Modulations provide interest to an otherwise calm and stable piece.

The second movement, Bloodthirsty Blizzard, heavily contrasts this first movement. With a much faster tempo, intense and jagged rhythmic activity, and a ubiquitous use of subito dynamic changes, this movement depicts the heart of the storm, or the polar vortex itself. The whole movement aggressively and constantly modulates throughout different keys and expands upon motivic material from the very beginning. A huge emphasis is on the octatonic, or diminished, scale and the work extends this emphasis by outlining a diminished chord through tonal centers of each major section.