Describe your inspiration for composing the piece. What is its overall conception?
Missoula is a four-movement work for saxophone quartet and is inspired by David Maslanka's music; the beautiful city of Missoula, Montana; David's dedication to young composers like myself and their music; and, my musical journey thus far. David's devotion to mentoring young composers was especially something I thought about while writing this piece. He spent a lot of time and effort replying to composers' emails and/or inquiries regarding his music or theirs. I have heard many stories from composers finding a mentorship with him because of this. David was a true lover of music. That is why I have written this piece.
What are some of the goals you strove to accomplish?
As a composer who has primarily been writing for band for almost five years now, I have found that there are certain instruments within the wind ensemble instrumentation that I have less familiarity with. Chamber pieces such as this do wonders to address these concerns. I feel that I've learned a ton about the saxophone and how to write for it over the past six months in composing this piece.
What are some of the challenges you faced?
There were several times during the process that I wanted to quit and start over because of the material that this piece deals with. I feel it is a risk to write music of this nature. The title and subject matter is a direct reference to David Maslanka, his home, my relationship with David, and his funeral - that's what this piece is about. I found myself doubting my ability to write a piece like this and how it would be received. But, it came down to whether or not I wanted to be truthful about the music that I wrote. When I thought about it like this, I knew that I wanted to write this piece my way.