So, the work is essentially in two halves. The first half is the literal choatic interpretation of the term, with saxophones and electronic music performing together (and sometimes even intentionally clashing with each other). Imagine large crowds demanding from their leaders concrete answers to their problems, only to instead receive a spectacle of distractions and diversions without a clear idea of what's going on. The second half is more of a lament for the saxophone quartet alone, a bitter sort of solemnity that wonders if either peace will finally come first (a peace that feels earned and is meaningful) or if this cycle of madness will just begin all over again.
What are some of the goals you strove to accomplish?
With every new commission and project, I try to explore a different idea within the music I'm working with. It could be harmonic, melodic, formal, textural, and/or conceptual. The fact that this piece was to be written for Zenith added a whole new layer to my compositional process. These players are just great at everything they do and incredibly professional with their craft.
With that in mind, I also knew that I needed to find creative ways of engaging the music that would speak to everything I love about the saxophone quartet as well as fulfill the intent of this new piece. Most of all, I needed to find a method of addressing the two key elements Zenith is so good at expressing in all of their performances - the wild, rampant, energetic, and superhuman levels of frenzied, chaotic music; and, the subdued, lyrical, mystifying, melodic and harmonic lines that I find can be both beautiful and quasi-spiritual at times.
Finally, with the electronic element, my biggest goal was to make sure that it was coherent within the framework of the quartet's music. Using a fixed media track made the process of putting this together much smoother. Additionally, the electronics are optional, so the piece as a whole needed to be structured so that it could work with or without those elements and still get across its overall intent all the same.
Given the scope of all these elements involved, I was aware that the music needed to make a statement, and a pretty dramatic and powerful one at that. I sought to express that as much as possible.
What do you hope audiences will take away in hearing your piece?
Mostly, I hope that they enjoy Zenith's performance of the piece. I hope that the music itself is a testament of how fantastic these players really are as well as the high level of artistry that they're so good at achieving professionally and effortlessly. It's been a great privilege to have been able to get to work with this group, and I look forward to hopefully further collaborations with them in the future.