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  • ALPENGLOW • 18’ • double concerto for alto saxophone, tuba, and wind ensemble
    The commissioners have exclusive performance and recording rights until May 31, 2023.

    alto saxophone soloist, tuba soloist, 3 Fl (3rd on Picc), 2 Ob (2nd on EH), 2 Bn, CBn or Contrabass Cl, 4 Cl, 1 B. Cl, SATB Sax, 3 Hn, 3 Tpt, 2 Tenor Tbn, 1 Bass Tbn, 1-2 Euph, 1-2 Tba, Timp, 4 Perc, Pno (with optional Celesta), 1-2 DB

    I. First Light
    II. Arc of the Sun
    III. Radiant Glow

    Chicago College of Performing Arts Wind Ensemble, Stephen Squires, conductor
    J. Michael Weiss-Holmes, alto saxophone, and Charles Schuchat, tuba


    Butler University; Carthage College; Illinois State University; Florida State University; Kansas State University; Louisiana State University; Mansfield University; Oklahoma State University; Roosevelt University; St. Charles East High School; "The President's Own" United States Marine Band; University of Arkansas; University of Massachusetts Amherst; University of Minnesota at Twin Cities; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; University of Nevada, Reno; University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire; and the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.

    The first time I saw an alpenglow, I had no idea what it was. It was the late 1980s, and I was a music camp at the base of the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. A few of us got up in the middle of the night so we could hike to a vantage point at the foot of Longs Peak, to watch the sun rise without any trees obstructing our view. Even though we had a few more minutes to go before the sun breached the horizon, when I looked up at the face of Longs Peak, it was glowing intensely with a most beautiful peach-pink color. This enchanting vision lasted only about ten minutes, after which the color faded as the sun rose. Throughout the next thirty years, whenever I returned to the Rocky Mountain National Park, I would occasionally catch this pre-dawn light show in all its glory.

    An alpenglow is an optical phenomenon that is visible on high altitude mountains. It happens twice daily, right before the sun rises and right after it sets. The earth’s atmosphere scatters the sun’s light, allowing particular wavelengths of light through and blanketing the mountains in rich hues of peach, pink, red, and purple.

    Alpenglow opens with First Light. This movement begins in the pre-dawn hour. The music starts simply and slowly, then grows increasingly animated as the sky lightens and the horizon shimmers with color. The movement explodes in a massive flurry of activity when the sun crosses the horizon; this energy eventually fades as the sun rises in the sky. In Arc of the Sun, we follow the sun as it energetically leaps and surges upwards in the sky. The music moves steadily upwards as it keeps pace with the sun’s progress, then crests as the sun reaches its zenith. As the sun bends back down towards the earth, the music follows suit, getting lower in range and slower as the sun nears the horizon. In Radiant Glow, the sun slips under the horizon, giving way to a most radiant alpenglow. As the alpenglow fades and twilight envelops the earth, stars shimmer in the night sky. 


    Stacks Image 6065
    Photo of alpenglow in Denali National Park. National Park Service photo, public domain.
    Taken by Emily Mesner.
  • KRAKATOA • 19’ • solo viola or alto saxophone, strings, percussion
    Solo viola or alto saxophone, strings (suggested size: 12,10,8,6,4), timpani, 3 percussion

    I. Imminent
    II. Eruption
    III. Dormant

    Carol Cook, viola, and the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra; Stephen Alltop, conductor


    Barlow Endowment

    Theodore Presser Company
    Click here to visit Presser’s ordering page
    $56.99 • full score (small)
    $109.99 • full score (large)
    Viola/piano version available for concert performance



    On May 20, 1883, a cloud of ash rose six miles high above Krakatoa, a volcano nestled on an island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. For the next two months, the volcano rumbled and spewed occasional dust and debris into the air, giving nearby inhabitants a spectacular show. On August 26th, Krakatoa turned deadly with an enormous blast that spewed pyroclastic flows (a blend of ash, lava, and gases) and pumice (lava that mixes with water and solidifies quickly into rock), and commenced a series of eruptions. On the next day, the volcano produced four enormous eruptions over four and a half hours. These eruptions were so loud (particularly the fourth) that they could be heard 3,000 miles away, and so devastating that two-thirds of the island sank back under the sea. The effects of Krakatoa’s eruptions were staggering: they sent shock waves into the atmosphere that circled the globe at least seven times; they triggered numerous tsunamis, the highest nearly 120 feet tall, which flooded and destroyed 165 coastal villages along with their inhabitants; and they propelled tons of ash roughly fifty miles up into the atmosphere. This ash blotted out the sun in Indonesia for days; it also lowered global temperatures for several years afterwards, and produced a wide range of atmospheric colors and phenomena. At least 36,000 people tragically lost their lives that fateful day. For the next forty-four years, Krakatoa was silent below the sea. This silence ended in 1927, when fishermen spotted steam and debris rising from the island. Within a year, a new volcano began to take shape above sea level. This new volcano is named Anak Krakatau, which translates to “child of Krakatoa,” and periodically experiences small eruptions.

    Krakatoa for solo viola, strings, and percussion follows the path of the volcano’s four main eruptions. In the first movement, Imminent, the violist uneasily plays as the orchestra (representing the volcano) shows ever-increasing signs of awakening. The orchestra bursts forth into the second movement, Eruption, where it proceeds through four eruptions that get progressively more cataclysmic. After the final and most violent eruption, the violist plays a cadenza that eases the volcano into the third movement, Dormant. In this final movement, the volcano slumbers, soothed by musical traits that I borrowed from traditional Javanese gamelan music: a cyclical, repetitive structure in which the largest gong is heard at the end of each cycle, and a musical scale loosely based on the Javanese pelog tuning system. The movement ends peacefully with an array of string harmonics, representing the intense and brilliantly colored sunsets generated by Krakatoa’s ash in the earth’s atmosphere.

    Krakatoa was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University.

  • QUICKSILVER • 24’ • solo alto saxophone, wind ensemble
    Alto saxophone soloist, 5 Fl (5th on Picc), 2 Ob, EH, 2 Bn, CBn or Contrabass Cl, 5 Cl, 1 B. Cl, SATB Sax, 4 Hn, 2 Tpt, 2 Tenor Tbn, Bass Tbn, 1-2 Euph, 1-2 Tba, Timp, 4 Perc, Pno (with optional Celesta), DB

    I. Antics of a Newborn God
    II. Guiding Souls to the Underworld
    III. Messenger of Olympus

    Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, saxophone, and the University of Massachusetts Wind Ensemble; Matthew Westgate, conductor

    AUDIO (piano reduction)
    Please note that the piano reduction is suitable for performance in recitals and concerts.
    Mvmt. 1:
    Mvmt. 2:
    Mvmt. 3:
    Idit Shner, saxophone, and EunHye Choi, piano


    Theodore Presser Company
    Click here to visit Presser’s ordering page
    $54.99 • full score (small)
    $116.99 • full score (large)
    Saxophone/piano version available for concert performance


    • Appalachian State University • John Stanley Ross, conductor • Scott Kallestad, saxophone
    • Arizona State University • Gary W. Hill, conductor • Christopher Creviston, saxophone
    • Baylor University • J. Eric Wilson, conductor • Michael N. Jacobson, saxophone
    • Butler University and the Butler University chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi • Michael J. Colburn, conductor • Heidi Radtke, saxophone
    • Carthage College • James Ripley, conductor • Andrew Carpenter, saxophone
    • Louisiana State University • Damon Talley, conductor • Griffin Campbell, saxophone
    • Penn State University and the Margot Music Fund • Dennis Glocke, conductor • David Stambler, saxophone
    • SUNY Potsdam • Brian K. Doyle, conductor (head of consortium) • Casey Grev, saxophone
    • University of Alabama • Kenneth Ozzello, conductor • Jonathan Noffsinger, saxophone
    • University of Massachusetts Amherst • Matthew Westgate, conductor • Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, saxophone
    • University of Michigan at Ann Arbor • Michael Haithcock, conductor • Timothy McAllister, saxophone
    • University of Nebraska-Lincoln • Carolyn Barber, conductor • Paul Haar, saxophone
    • University of North Carolina at Greensboro • John R. Locke and Kevin M. Geraldi, conductors • Steven Stusek, saxophone
    • University of Oregon • Rodney Dorsey, conductor • Idit Shner, saxophone
    • University of South Carolina • Scott Weiss, conductor • Clifford Leaman, saxophone

    In addition to being another name for the element mercury, “quicksilver” is used to describe something that changes quickly or is difficult to contain. My concerto of the same name was inspired by the Roman god Mercury, as well as the mercurial nature of the saxophone: unpredictable, very lively, and volatile. Mercury (known as Hermes in Greek mythology) is best known for his winged shoes, which allowed him to fly swiftly as the messenger of his fellow Olympians. Mercury had other duties too, including serving as the god of merchants, travelers, and tricksters; he also ushered souls of the departed to the Underworld.

    Quicksilver tells three tales of the Roman god. The first movement (Antics of a Newborn God) opens with the birth of Mercury; after he takes his first steps, he toddles around, gleefully looking for mischief. He stumbles across a herd of cows that belong to his brother Apollo; Mercury slyly lets the cows out of their pen before toddling onward with his mischief-making. In the second movement (Guiding Souls to the Underworld), Pluto, god of the Underworld, bids Mercury to bring him fresh souls. The movement begins with death-knells tolling for humans who are about to die; Mercury picks up these souls and leads them down to the gates of the Underworld. The third and final movement (Messenger of Olympus) depicts Mercury as he is busily running errands for various gods and goddesses. We first encounter him mid-flight as he dashes to earth to find Aeneas, a Trojan lieutenant who had been run out of Troy by the invading Greeks. Aeneas is on a quest to find land on which to establish a new city that would eventually become Rome. While traveling, he is distracted from his quest when he meets the beautiful queen Dido. They live together for many years before Mercury intervenes; he chastises Aeneas for giving up on his quest and persuades him to pick it up again. As Aeneas mournfully resumes his journey, we hear Dido perish of a broken heart. Mercury then takes to the skies to seek out Perseus, who is preparing to kill the Medusa, the hideous gorgon who has snakes for hair and a gaze that turns those who catch her glance into stone. Mercury advises Perseus on how to slay Medusa and lends Perseus his sword to do the deed. We hear Perseus victorious in the beheading of Medusa, after which Mercury takes to the skies once more to fly home to Olympus.

    Quicksilver was commissioned by Appalachian State University, Arizona State University, Baylor University, Butler University and the Butler University chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, Carthage College, Louisiana State University, Penn State University and the Margot Music Fund, SUNY Potsdam, University of Alabama, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University of Oregon, and University of South Carolina.