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Saxophone Works

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  • Archangels (2018) 11’15” • 3 soprano sax
    The commissioners have exclusive performance rights until December 15, 2019. They also have exclusive recording rights until December 15, 2020.

    Christopher Creviston, Samuel Detweiler, and Justin Rollefson

    I have always been fascinated with the concept of archangels – huge, supernatural beings with gigantic wings who visit earth to carry out their heavenly tasks. Archangels are the “chief” angels in Judeo-Christian and Islamic religions. The precise number of these high-ranking celestial beings varies from one religious source to another (typically from four to seven). The three movements of Archangels depict Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel—the three archangels most commonly referenced.

    Michael is a warrior who is ever vigilant to march into battle against forces of evil. In art, he is often portrayed with his wings spread open in mid-flight and wielding a large sword that is raised into an attack position. The first movement begins with the foreboding sound of his large, beating wings. Suddenly, Michael appears in all of his terrible glory and wreaks havoc on an army of demons.

    Raphael is a Hebraic name that translates to “God heals,” and he is in charge of all manners of healing. Artwork of Raphael typically shows him holding a staff, and he is often pictured with the round cheeks associated with a young cherub. In this quiet middle movement, Raphael gently makes his rounds to tend to the sick.

    Gabriel is the heralder of news. In Christianity, Gabriel’s purpose is quite significant: he appears to Zechariah and Mary to announce the forthcoming births of John the Baptist and Jesus, respectively. Gabriel is often depicted holding a scepter, a stem of lilies, or an unfurled scroll. In this final movement of the piece, Gabriel trumpets his news for all to hear.

    This piece was commissioned by saxophonists Christopher Creviston, Samuel Detweiler, and Justin Rollefson.


    Please list the piece as follows:
    I. Michael (Warrior)
    II. Raphael (Healer)
    III. Gabriel (Heralder)
  • Flight of Icarus (2012) 14’ • sax quartet (SATB)
    Movement I: Icarus Ascending
    Movement II: Deadalus Mourns


    Capitol Quartet
    Balance • Blue Griffin Recording • Purchase recording

    Commissioned by the Margot Music Fund and the Capitol Quartet

    Theodore Presser Company
    114-41723 • $56.99 • full score and saxophone parts • click to order
    114-41723M • $42.99 • set of parts •
    click to order
    114-41723S • $23.99 • full score only •
    click to order
    PR.114417230 • $56.99 • full score and saxophone parts • click to order
    PR.11441723M • $42.99 • set of parts •
    click to order
    PR.11441723S • $23.99 • full score only •
    click to order

    One of the first pieces I ever composed was a short saxophone quartet named Soaring Eagle. I was eighteen and played the alto saxophone in high school, so it was quite natural to write a piece that my marching band classmates could play. While that early work has long been forgotten, I have always remembered feeling exhilarated at hearing those four saxophones dipping and weaving around each other as they played the piece’s main theme. When the Capitol Quartet commissioned me for a new work, I decided to revisit the topic of soaring, to see if I could capture the essence of exhilaration once again. Additionally, I recently wrote a choir piece on the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar. One of the poems, Not They Who Soar, came to mind as I began this piece; the haunting theme of that setting serves as the basis for the musical material.

    Flight of Icarus is based on the Greek legend of Daedalus, an architect and engineer, and his son Icarus. On the island of Crete, Daedalus had built a maze for King Minos. Minos imprisoned a Minotaur (a half-bull, half-human creature) within the maze and annually sacrificed fourteen Athenians to the creature. Being an Athenian himself, Daedalus was upset with this arrangement and helped another king to successfully navigate the maze and kill the Minotaur. Minos sent his army after Daedalus in retaliation, but Daedalus was prepared. He and his son Icarus affixed wings crafted of wax and feathers to their backs and took to the sky. Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too low, so the waters would not weigh down the feathers, nor too high for the sun to melt the wax. Icarus, however, was so elated with the thrill of flying that he drew too close to the sun. The wax melted, and Icarus fell to his watery demise.

    Flight of Icarus consists of two movements. Icarus Ascending follows Icarus’ flight toward the sun and subsequent fall; Daedalus Mourns depicts a father’s grief for his lost son.

    This piece was commissioned by the Capitol Quartet and the Margot Music Fund.
  • Fragmented Spirit (1998) 7’30” • alto sax, pno

    Excerpt of Fragmented Spirit
    HD Duo (Michael Duke, saxophone, and David Howie, piano)
    Incandescence • Saxophone Classics CC 4002 • The Classics LabelsPurchase recording

    Theodore Presser Company
    114-41106 • $25.95 • full score and sax part • click to order
    PR.114411060 • $25.95 • full score and sax part • click to order

    Performers, the following mistakes are in the printed scores. Please correct:
    - m. 109, beat 2 - change the saxophone to have a concert C instead of a concert A, so that it matches the piano part. The transposed pitch will need to be changed in the sax part too.
    - m. 119 - the piano has an extra, 6th beat in this 5/4 measure. Remove the extra beat at the end of the measure.

    i feel
    small bits
    scattered over cement
    glittering specks, dark lines
    i don’t know
    to reassemble myself

    i sound
    open my jaw
    i gurgle, cough, gasp
    a silent, violent scream
    my throat cannot
    its primary function

    a spirit in pieces
    you see it
    strewn everywhere as if on parade
    you have power
    you can stomp on it
    smash it
    or you can collect the bits
    and teach my hands
    to reshape my tattered spirit
    into vibrance.

  • Hell Hath No Fury (2018) 5’30” • sax quartet (SATB)
    The Capitol Quartet has exclusive performance rights until July 13, 2019. They also have exclusive recording rights until July 18, 2019.

    Capitol Quartet

    The phrase “Heav’n has no rage, like love to hatred turn’d, Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorn’d” was penned by William Congreve in 1697 in his tragedy play The Mourning Bride. Over the centuries, the original phrase morphed into the more commonly known phrase “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” While the original phrasing has lost some of its elegance in its shortened modern form, the sentiment remains the same – a scorned woman is going to be steaming mad.

    Hell Hath No Fury is my take on the Lilith myth. Lilith was the first wife of Adam, who God created before he made Eve. Lilith was cast out of Eden when she refused to be subservient to him, particularly in regards to amorous matters. As the piece begins, we hear Lilith screaming in fury and anguish. This is followed by a calmer section, in which she is in shock at her fate. Lilith once again lashes out in anger before she sullenly walks out of the garden of Eden forever.

    Hell Hath No Fury was commissioned by the Capitol Quartet (Christopher Creviston, soprano saxophone; Joseph Lulloff, alto saxophone; David Stambler, tenor saxophone; and Henning Schröder, baritone saxophone) and the Margot Music Fund.

  • Jarba, Mare Jarba (2018) 4’ • SSAATTBB saxophones

    Arizona State University Saxophone Studio; Christopher Creviston, Director

    Chanticleer commissioned the original choral version; the composer’s arrangement for saxophone octet is dedicated to Christopher Creviston and the Arizona State University Saxophone Studio.

    Inkjar Publishing Company
    $70 plus shipping • full score and set of parts (SSAATTBB)
    To order, click here.

    Jarba, Mare Jarba is a popular traditional Hungarian-Romani folk song. Its text speaks of the longing to return to one's homeland.

    Translation of Jarba, Mare Jarba
    Green grass, tall grass, I would like to go home,
    but I cannot, because I have sworn not to.
    Tall grass, green grass – oh, that I cannot go home!

    My mother has left the village; she left the hut empty,
    Adorned with leaves but full of poverty.
    Tall grass, green grass – oh, that I cannot go home!
    Tall grass, green grass – I would like to go home.
    but I cannot, because I have sworn not to.
  • Phoenix Rising (2016) 10’ • solo soprano sax -or- alto flute/flute (one player) -or- clarinet Enter description here.
    Movement 1: Dying in embers
    Movement 2: Reborn in flames

    VIDEO (flute version)
    Amanda Pond, flutes

    Christopher Creviston, saxophone


    Theodore Presser Company
    #114-41826 • $15.99 • click to order

    Legends of the phoenix are found in stories from ancient Egypt and Greece. While each culture possesses a range of stories encompassing the phoenix myth, these tales tend to share similar traits: a sacred bird with brilliantly colored plumage and melodious call lives for typically five hundred years; then the bird dies in a nest of embers, only to be reborn among the flames. In Egyptian stories, the phoenix gathers scented wood and spices for its funeral/rebirth pyre, then collects the ashes from its earlier incarnation and flies them to the temple of the sun in Heliopolis to offer as a tribute to the sun god. In Greek myths, the phoenix was approximately the size of an eagle and was adorned with red and gold feathers; it would fly from either India or Arabia to Heliopolis to give its offering. The bird’s association with immortality and resurrection are particularly intriguing aspects of these tales, giving numerous writers (including William Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, and J.K. Rowling) a rich resource for their own stories.

    Phoenix Rising consists of two movements.
    I. Dying in embers represents an old phoenix who is settling on top of a pile of embers and breathing its last breath; II. Reborn in flames depicts the newly born phoenix getting its first taste of flight. Phoenix Rising was commissioned by saxophonist Christopher Creviston.
  • Pieces of Sanity (2007) 11’ • alto sax, pno Enter description here.
    Movement 1: Rage
    Movement 3: Euphoria
    Movement 2: Despair

    Movement 4: Possessed
    Movement 5: Stoic

    Creviston Duo
    Breaking • CD Baby • Purchase recording

    To the Creviston Duo

    Theodore Presser Company
    114-41388 • $25.95 • full score and sax part • click to order
    PR.114413880 • $25.95 • full score and sax part • click to order

    Pieces of Sanity, for alto saxophone and piano, contains five miniatures. Each short movement represents a frozen snapshot of a particular state of mind. We follow the protagonist as he experiences five states: Rage and Despair (movements 1 and 2) give way to Euphoria (movement 3); Possessed (movement 4) culminates into Stoic (movement 5).
  • Quicksilver (2017) 24’ • alto sax concerto with 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

    Mvmt. 1:
    Antics of a Newborn God
    Mvmt. 2:
    Guiding Souls to the Underworld
    Mvmt. 3:
    Messenger of Olympus

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

    All consortium members hold exclusive performance and commercial recording rights until 5/30/19.

    • 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.


    10/18/17: Crane Wind Ensemble at SUNY Potsdam, NY (world premiere)
    4/14/18: University of Massachusetts Amherst Wind Ensemble at the 36th Annual New England Saxophone Symposium, MA
    4/19/18: University of South Carolina Wind Ensemble, Colombia, SC
    4/26/18: Butler University Wind Ensemble, Indianapolis, IN
    5/10/18: University of Oregon Wind Ensemble, Beall Concert Hall, Eugene, OR
    9/27/18: University of Alabama Wind Ensemble, Tuscaloosa, AL

    3/17/19: Carthage Wind Orchestra, Kenosha, WI
    4/22/19: University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE

  • Rites for the Afterlife (2018) 17’ • reed quintet (ob/eh, cl, sop/alto sax, bass cl, bn) Enter description here.
    Akropolis Reed Quintet, Calefax Reed Quintet, and the Brigham Young University Reed Quintet have exclusive performance rights until December 31, 2019.

    Rites for the Afterlife was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment on behalf of the Akropolis Reed Quintet, Calefax Reed Quintet, and the Brigham Young University Reed Quintet.

    The ancient Egyptian empire began around 3100 B.C. and continued for over 3000 years until Alexander the Great conquered the country in 332 B.C. Over the centuries, the Egyptian empire grew and flourished into a highly developed society. They invented hieroglyphics, built towering pyramids (including the Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World), and the created many household items we still use today, including toothbrushes, toothpaste, black ink, and the forerunner of modern-day paper.

    Included among their achievements were a series of highly developed funerary practices and beliefs in the Afterlife. As the average lifespan of an Egyptian hovered around 30 years, living past the death of one’s physical body was a legitimate concern. Egyptians believed that upon death, their souls would undertake a harrowing journey through the Netherworld. If they survived the horrific creatures and arduous trials that awaited them, then their souls would be reunified with their bodies (hence the need to preserve the body through mummification) and live forever in a perfect version of the life they had lived in Egypt. To achieve this, Egyptians devised around 200 magical spells and incantations to aid souls on the path to the Afterlife. These spells are collectively called The Book of the Dead. Particular spells would be chosen by the family of the deceased and inscribed on the tomb’s walls and scrolls of papyrus, as well as on a stone scarab placed over the deceased’s heart. Subsequent collections of spells and mortuary texts, such as The Book of Gates, assisted a soul in navigating the twelve stages of the Netherworld. Not only did these spells protect and guide the soul on this dangerous path, but they also served as a safeguard against any unbecoming behavior an Egyptian did while alive. For instance, if a person had robbed another while alive, there was a spell that would prevent the soul’s heart from revealing the truth when in the Hall of Judgement.

    Rites for the Afterlife follows the path of a soul to the Afterlife. In Inscriptions from the Book of the Dead (movement 1), the soul leaves the body and begins the journey, protected by spells and incantations written on the tomb’s walls. In Passage though the Netherworld (movement 2), the soul is now on a funerary barque, being towed through the Netherworld by four of the region’s inhabitants. We hear the soul slowly chanting incantations as the barque encounters demons, serpents, crocodiles, lakes of fire, and other terrors. The soul arrives at The Hall of Judgement in movement 3. Standing before forty-two divine judges, the soul addresses each by name and gives a “negative confession” connected to each judge (i.e. “I did not rob,” “I did not do violence,” and so on). Afterwards, the soul’s heart is put on a scale to be weighed against a feather of Ma’at, the goddess of truth. If the heart weighs more than the feather, it will be eaten by Ammut, a hideous creature that lies in wait below the scale, and the soul will die a second and permanent death (this was the worst fear of the Egyptians). But if the heart is in balance with the feather, the soul proceeds onward. The final stage of the journey is the arrival at The Field of Reeds (movement 4), which is a perfect mirror image of the soul’s life in ancient Egypt. The soul reunites with deceased family members, makes sacrifices to the Egyptian gods and goddess, harvests crops from plentiful fields of wheat under a brilliant blue sky, and lives forever next to the abundant and nourishing waters of the Nile.

    Rites for the Afterlife was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment on behalf of the Akropolis Reed Quintet, Calefax Reed Quintet, and the Brigham Young University Reed Quintet.

  • Stubborn as Hell (2011) 5’40” • 2 soprano sax Enter description here.


    Mélomane Duo (Kristi Hanno and Jenny Maclay), clarinets

    Robert Spring (clarinet version)

    Theodore Presser Company
    114-41919 • $14.99 • full score and sax part • click to order

    Stubborn as Hell was commissioned by virtuoso clarinetist Robert Spring. I heard Bob perform in September 2010 when I attended his clarinet concert at Arizona State University – Tempe. Bob is one of those wondrous musicians that plays the most challenging pieces written for the instrument and make them sound effortless. When he commissioned me, I wanted to write a piece that not only reflected his technical and musical abilities, but also his great sense of humor, hence the title and premise of the piece. The “stubbornness” of the title refers to the manner in which the two instruments incessantly battle each other around the pitch D, and how they willfully get stuck repeating pitches and gestures.

    The composer made an arrangement of the piece for two soprano saxophones in 2016.
  • Sueños de Flamenco (2018) 4’45” • alto sax, classical guitar Enter description here.

    VIDEO - drag the cursor to 19’24” to watch.

    Duo Montagnard

    The commissioner has exclusive performance rights until April 10, 2020. They also have exclusive recording rights until April 10, 2021.

    Duo Montagnard

    Flamenco is an art form involving highly dramatic music and dance. The form is strongly associated with the Andalusia region of southern Spain. Its actual origins are less clear, though historians theorize that gypsies brought the predecessors of flamenco to the region as they migrated from India prior to the 15th century. The form took on traits from cultures that the gypsies encountered in Andalusia, including Spanish, Sephardic, Islamic, and Moorish musical traditions. Over the centuries, Spain’s ruling classes undertook systematic persecutions of populations who did not agree with their religious ideals, forcing gypsies to take refuge in Andalusia’s isolated mountain regions to survive. Not surprisingly, the topics of the gypsies’ songs frequently touch on longing, despair, rage, anguish, and hope.

    Sueños de Flamenco (Flamenco Dreams) portrays a young gypsy couple who dance the flamenco with great longing, passion, and vigor. The piece was commissioned by Duo Montagnard (Joseph Murphy, saxophone, and Matthew Slotkin, guitar).

  • Tantrum (2000) 13’30” • alto sax, pno Enter description here.
    Mvmt. 1: Obsessive Behavior
    Mvmt. 3: Fits and Fists
    Mvmt. 2: Lost


    Ambassador Duo
    IlluminationsEquilibrium Records EQ 77 • Purchase recording

    Otis Murphy

    Theodore Presser Company
    114-41107 • $36.95 • full score and sax part • click to order
    PR.114411070 • $36.95 • full score and sax part • click to order

    Performers, the following mistakes are in the printed scores. Please correct:
    Mvmt 1

    - mm. 19-21 - piano LH is missing an 8vb.
    - mm. 178-184 - piano RH is missing an 8va.
    Mvmt 2
    - m. 7 - the note below the piano LH should say hold to measure 17 (not 87).
    - m. 17 - at the end of the measure & below the staff, there should be an asterisk for a piano pedal lift.
    - m. 29 - piano LH, the grace note to the last beat should only have the lower pitch (strike the upper pitch).
    Mvmt 3
    - m. 61 - the sax trill should have a flat above it instead of a natural. (It is correct in the sax part, since that’s transposed.)
    - m. 137 - the piano is missing a Pedal indication - this begins on beat 1.

    Tantrum has the formal structure of a traditional sonata, but its connection with the historical form stops there. The first movement (Obsession) obsesses continuously on a four note figure, which is introduced immediately following an extended slow introduction. Lost, the second movement, actually began as a piece for voice and piano; it subsequently lost its text, and the saxophone sings forlornly in its place. The third movement (Fits and Fists) takes a quirky bit of music and modulates it up an interval of a perfect fourth every chance it gets. This high energy piece presents a playful challenge for both the saxophonist and pianist.
  • Wrath (2016) 14’15” • tenor sax, pno Enter description here.
    Roy Allen, Jr., Carolyn Braus, Steve Carmichael, Christopher Creviston, Casey Grev, J. Michael Holmes, Andrew Hutchens, Jeff Kinsey, Joseph Lulloff, Jonathan Nichol, Jason Oates, Doug O'Connor, Tyrone Page, Jr., Justin Rollefson, David Stambler, and the Margot Music Fund.

    Theodore Presser Company
    114-41945 • $36.99 • full score and sax part • click to order


    In 2000, I wrote a feisty piece called Tantrum for alto saxophone and piano. Sixteen years later, I decided to revisit Tantrum and re-imagine it as a leaner, meaner, ferocious teenager who has moved on from an infant’s temper tantrum into an all-out vengeful fury. Wrath shares a few structural similarities with Tantrum: both have three movements that follow a fast – slow – super fast pattern; both works also open with a declamatory statement issued by the saxophone; and both are high in energy and very dramatic. Musically, the works are independent.

    One of the intriguing features of
    Wrath was inspired by the manner in which the piece was commissioned. Saxophonist David Stambler and I built a consortium of fifteen saxophonists who all took part in commissioning the piece. I wanted each saxophonist to have multiple opportunities to personalize the music by bringing his or her own interpretation to the notes. So I incorporated several spots in the first movement in which the saxophonists are encouraged to experiment and tinker with the way they perform the written material (you’ll hear a prime example of this in the opening material of the first movement). Additionally, near the end of the first movement, there is a spot in which the saxophonists are asked to improvise.