Outcry and Turning (9:46) Evan Chambers
The Abundant Air: Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Band (19:23) Perry Goldstein
SFC Wayne Tice, soprano saxophone
Mr. Taimur Sullivan, alto saxophone
SSG Brian Broelmann, tenor saxophone
SSG Christopher Rettie, baritone saxophone
Should This Be Found: Six Songs on Scott’s Last Expedition
I. The Voyage Out (5:04)
II. Land at Last (4:16)
III. Penguins (3:49)
IV. Impressions on the March (3:43)
V. In Winter Quarters (5:26)
VI. Summit, the Pole and Beyond (11:48)
SFC MaryKay Messenger, soprano
Outcry and Turning
Evan Chambers' work Outcry and Turning is a deeply moving piece that explores that range of emotions associated with great loss or tragedy. The piece was commissioned by the United States Military Academy Concert Band and was completed in 2003. The band, under the direction of Captain Tod Addison gave the world premiere of Outcry and Turning on February 21, 2004.
Evan Chambers on Outcry and Turning:
Outcry: a wailing or howling against what should not be; a call sent out to touch the unspeakable and to change it by marking what is unbearably wrong with the sign of our grief and rage.
Turning: the movement of becoming something else (a turning leaf); similarly, a process of change in the course of events (the tide is turning); to change direction by shifting momentum away from an obstacle or toward a new goal; an act of creation, especially in the case of the making of something extraordinary (as in turning out great work); a slow and inexorable rotation of heavenly bodies or circling dancers around a center.
In the face of war, disaster or death, we often feel helpless. It seems that all we can do is to cry out from our weakness and from our sense of injustice. And yet there is a tremendous power in our outcry. A wail breaks from our lips in our grieving, untangling over time a knot of tightly coiled pain. It not only expresses our loss, but also stands as a form of tangible protest against what cannot or will not be reconciled.
We cry out alone, but we dance together, taking up that fallen sound and turning it into collective motion, transforming space with energy as we move through it. In our turning we gather strength and send it spiraling up and out through our bodies in the hope of redeeming loss or healing what is broken; in the hope of changing direction and restoring a balance that has been destroyed.
Evan Chambers was born in 1963 in Alexandria, Louisiana. He is an Associate Professor in the composition department at the University of Michigan. He won first prize in the Cincinnati Symphony National Composers' Competition and in 1998 was awarded the Walter Beeler Memorial Composition Prize by Ithaca College. His work has been recognized by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Vienna Modern Masters Orchestral Competition and the American Composers Forum. The Cincinnati, Kansas City, Memphis, New Hampshire and Albany symphonies have performed his works. In addition to the commission to compose Outcry and Turning, he has been the recipient of commissions from the Albany Symphony, Eighth Blackbird, members of the Cleveland Orchestra, members of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Quorum, the Greene String Quartet and the University of Michigan. Chambers graduated with highest honors from the University of Michigan, where he received a Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music in Composition. His composition teachers include William Albright and Leslie Bassett. His works have been released on recordings by the Foundation Russolo-Pratella, Equilibrium, Clarinet Classics, Cambria, Centaur and Albany Records. His compositions have been recorded by the Greene String Quartet, the Albany Symphony and Quorum. His solo CD Cold Water, Dry Stone is available on Albany records. Outcry and Turning is available at www.evanchambers.net.
The Abundant Air: Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Band
I was privileged to work with the West Point Saxophone Quartet and to hear them give splendid, spirited performances of all three of my saxophone quartets, two of which they subsequently recorded. When asked to compose a concerto for the quartet and the United States Military Academy Band, I jumped at the chance, excited by the enormous power and extensive timbral possibilities presented by these expanded forces. The result was The Abundant Air: Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Band (2003).
The title was suggested by a passage in Ann Patchett's novel Bel Canto, in which is described a kiss between two protagonists in an impossible romance. “Carmen leaned forward and kissed him. There was no time for kissing but she wanted him to know that in the future there would be. A kiss in so much loneliness was like a hand pulling you up out of the water, scooping you up from a place of drowning and into the reckless abundance of air. A kiss, another kiss. 'Go,' she whispered.” I was drawn to the idea of “abundance,” as I hoped that this would be a generous piece in its melodic richness and direct expressiveness. This nineteen-minute work is also anchored around a recurring melody, or “air” in the old-fashioned parlance. The notion of abundant melodies also made the title apposite.
The formal strategy of the concerto emulates late nineteenth-century models in which recurring themes return throughout the piece. Although the piece is in one movement, it is comprised of several sections, nested forms within the larger form. At the work's core is an exotic tune sung first by the soprano saxophone against a droning bassoon background. This theme, presented at first in unpredictable phrase lengths, is “regularized” and picked up by the other saxes and the band. Three sustained sections containing this theme occur throughout the piece and serve as the pinions of the form. As the eight occurrences of the tune occur in different orchestrations and with varying forms of melodic elaboration, they may together be perceived as a set of variations. Alternating with these recurring thematic sections are contrasting passages. There is a brisk development, at turns incisive and comic, after the first thematic section and a “Maestoso” section that gives way to a sustained brooding duet between the tenor and baritone saxophones. A buoyant scherzo follows, after which the clangorous opening of the piece is folded into alternating statements of the opening theme, marking a recapitulation. A coda, reminiscent of the scherzo, brings the concerto to a close.
Harmonically, the piece is largely modal. Stylistically, this music owes a debt to some of the ambitious concert jazz that developed in the late 1950's. As a boy, I was treated to my father's delight in the collaborations between Miles Davis and Gil Evans that resulted in such classics as Sketches of Spain, Porgy and Bess and Miles Ahead. Some of the colors and sensibilities of Abundant Air are informed by the deep love I have for that music and for the man who introduced it to me.
Abundant Air is dedicated to the West Point Saxophone Quartet, Colonel Thomas Rotondi, Jr. and the U.S. Military Academy Band, without whose confidence and invitation the piece would not have been written. To that inspiration I'll add two others: that of my father's love of good jazz and that of my wife, Dawn, who has created such a cozy and happy home as to inspire a piece of such warmth, optimism and good spirits.
Should This Be Found: Six Songs on Scott's Last Expedition
In 1910, Robert Falcon Scott made his second expedition to Antarctica, determined to be the first man to reach the South Pole. A successful journey required an 800-mile trek to the Pole (including climbing a glacier) in temperatures sometimes approaching 50 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, then the arduous return. The five men who made the trek faced blizzards, fell in crevasses, experienced dehydration, starvation, frostbite, sun-blindness and scurvy. For much of the expedition, they hauled 200-pound sleds of equipment, sometimes restricted by ground and weather conditions to six or seven miles a day of hard “manhauling.” When they arrived at the Pole on January 17, 1912, their hopes of being first were dashed upon discovering that Roald Amundsen and his Norwegian team had preceded them by thirty-three days. Disappointed, they turned back. Petty Officer Edgar Evans “died quietly,” according to Scott, on February 17, presumably of a brain injury incurred by falls into several crevasses. A month later, Captain Lawrence Oates (who had taken care of the ponies on the expedition), frostbitten and holding the men back, sacrificed himself by walking into a blizzard with the parting words “I am just going out and may be some time.” Captain Scott, Dr. Edward Wilson and Lieutenant Henry “Bertie” Bowers trudged onward. One hundred eighty-six miles from the base camp and eleven miles from one of the depots that would have supplied food and oil, they succumbed in their tent and were discovered eight months later. Why they couldn't go on remains a mystery. Scott reports that they were kept from pushing forward by a blizzard that raged for several days, although recent meteorological evidence suggests that there could have been no blizzard in that region lasting so long. Susan Solomon theorizes that the plan for Bowers and Wilson to travel to the depot and return to Scott with food and oil seemed impractical, given Scott's severely frost-bitten condition and that his two companions simply chose to die with their captain rather than continue their trek.
Discovered with the bodies was Scott's journal, on which he wrote, “Send this diary to my wife.” The word “wife” is crossed out and replaced with the word “widow.” Scott's journals make fascinating, harrowing, and deeply touching reading. The panoply of emotions he experienced is vividly represented by his excellent prose and we find him by turns excited, defensive, insecure, and proud. He was insightful and sensitive and his final letters to his wife and the families of the men who died with him are heartrending. Whatever his skill as an explorer (there has been much criticism of the miscalculations that may have doomed the expedition), there is no denying his remarkable courage or that of his men, or the spirit of affection and sacrifice that characterized their relationships. One can barely imagine what they must have suffered; that they remained “unendingly cheerful” even as they faced certain death compels our admiration.
Scott's description of his expedition runs to nearly five hundred pages. For the difficult task of distilling these thousands of words into six song texts, I turned to one of our country's most admired novelists, Richard Powers. What a masterful job he has done! The texts evoke the excitement of the undertaking, the beauty of the Antarctic landscape, the humor of the penguins, the arduousness of the journey, the disappointment of dashed hopes, and the final days and hours of transcendent courage.
On the structural level, the first five songs involve a recapitulation of opening or prominent material. Only the sixth is through-composed without recapitulation; the party does not return “home,” nor can the music. The first three songs are straightforward, each section having its own unambiguous character. As conditions become harsher and the men march toward their doom, the music takes on greater ambiguity and dissonance. “Impressions on the March” introduces bi-tonality, while “In Winter Quarters” presents music in contradictory tempi. “Summit, the Pole and Beyond” intensifies these impressions of bi-tonality and conflicting tempi, while furthering the sense of dislocation by juxtaposing bits of music from all but one previous song.
“The Voyage Out” depicts the giddy excitement of the Terra Nova pushing off from the dock after months of preparation, the energy of the work on board and the mass of people gaily waving goodbye. The cycle's most blatantly programmatic music depicts the near shipwreck in stormy weather. The welcome appearance of the sun and the sighting of “some steep-walled berg, some patch of bluest sea” is rendered in luminous, undulating musical strokes and the final stanza, lauding the crew and expressing hopeful expectations of a successful expedition, returns to the nautical, masculine strains of the song's opening section.
By contrast, “Land at Last” is a peaceful barcarole, depicting the gentle rocking of the boat, the beauty of Antarctica, the unloading of the cargo. The last stanza glows with Scott's description of the comfort of the hut they've built, where “peace, quiet and comfort reign supreme.”
“Penguins” is a light-hearted intermezzo before the inexorable tragedy that binds the last three songs of the cycle. The men were charmed by the little penguins that were compelled by curiosity to run up to the men when they sang to them but were so bashful that they would run away when the men stopped. Scott misquotes a popular song from 1908 sung by the men to the penguins, “She's Got Rings on Her Fingers,” which appears explicitly in the song. So does a brass rendition of “God Save the King,” which Cecil Meares would sing to the penguins in so off-pitch a manner that it never failed to send them fleeing back to the water. In the last stanza, the penguins walk past howling dogs, straining at their tethers to tear them apart. The sinister music that begins and ends the song represents the penguins' last laugh. “'Hello,' [the penguins] seem to say, 'here's a game -- what do all you ridiculous things want? Oh, that's the sort of animal you are; well, you've come to the wrong place.'”
“Impressions on the March” is a Mahlerian funeral march, with major/minor mode mixture and bi-tonality. Scott's sympathy for the animals surfaces again, as it does throughout his writings and in these songs. “The dogs are…tired to-night. Pathetic to see the ponies floundering” is set to labored rhythms. The tempo increases slightly as Scott records his observations about the sights and sounds on the march, before describing “the eternal silence of the great white desert.”
“In Winter Quarters” finds Scott learning of Roald Amundsen's attempts to precede him to the Pole. Here and throughout these songs, his fears are quickly replaced by a strong sense of duty. A contrasting “B” section sets Scott's description of his fearless men in heroic terms, the brass and drum music providing an exuberant respite from the increasingly dark circumstances of the doomed expedition. Despite this moment of optimism, the hymns of the Morning Service, depicted in an original chorale, “are not quite successful,” as Scott reflects on the fragility and insignificance of man in the cosmos. To describe the increasing contrast between their aspirations and increasingly difficult circumstances, the score's opening pages contain music in different tempi simultaneously: bassoons and marimba travel faster than the more lugubrious oboe when it enters with its solo.
“Summit, the Pole and Beyond” is the final song and carries the cycle's greatest burden of storytelling. Scott is forced to kill the ponies for food, discovers Amundsen's tent at the Pole, describes the death of two of his companions and muses on his wife and son during his last moments. The various musical anomalies and uncomfortable key and tempo juxtapositions that characterize the fourth and fifth songs are intensified in the sixth, as musical reminiscences from all but one of the songs are heard. The last pages of the score aspire to a steely and unsentimental beauty, with a simple repeated chord and a tolling of bells. It represents the way I imagine Scott in his last hours, courageous to the last, accepting his fate. A calm settles over him and he does not regret the fearful journey. “We took risks,” he writes in his “Message to the Public” in those last hours, “we knew we took them; things have come out against us and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of Providence, determined still to do our best to the last.”
The composition of Should This Be Found took seven months and was completed on December 29, 2004. The parts were completed on January 17, 2005, 93 years to the day after Robert Falcon Scott and his men reached the South Pole. The work is dedicated to Sergeant First Class MaryKay Messenger, Colonel Thomas Rotondi, Jr. and the United States Military Academy Band at West Point. I am grateful to Colonel Rotondi for the opportunity to bring musical expression to this remarkable story.
Perry Goldstein was born in 1952 in New York City and was educated at the University of Illinois, UCLA and Columbia University, from which he received a doctorate in composition in 1986. His principal composition teachers were Herbert Brün, Mario Davidovsky, Ben Johnston, Chou Wen-Chung and Paul Zonn. His music has been performed throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Commissions include Motherless Child Variations and Blow!, for the Aurelia Saxophone Quartet; the sextet Twittering Machine, for the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players; Do Over, for the Guild Trio; Of Points Fixed and Fluid, for pianist Eliza Garth; Total Absorption, for bass clarinetist Michael Lowenstern and Tableau and Talisman, for HET Trio. His music has been released on the Dutch Vanguard, Challenge and New World labels.
Since 1992, Goldstein has served on the music faculty of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he is currently the Undergraduate Studies Director in the Department of Music and the Director of the College of Arts, Culture, and Humanities. For information on Mr. Goldstein’s music, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should This Be Found
Texts from the diaries of Robert Falcon Scott
Arranged by Richard Powers
Song 1: The Voyage Out
The ship came out of dock,
a scene of great industry.
Men were building horse stalls,
caulking the decks, resecuring the deckhouses.
Not a single spot but had its band of workers.
The [ship] pushed off from
the jetty. A great mass of people,
bright sunshine--very gay scene. Pennell
swung the ship for compass adjustment, then away.
A day of great disaster,
Plunging, taking much water,
a great piece of bulwark carried clean away.
The scene on deck was devastating.
A dog was drowned last night. One pony dead,
and two others probably will go.
The sun has appeared through breaks
in the cloudy heavens, brilliantly illuminating
some field of pack, some steep-walled berg,
some patch of bluest sea. So sunlight
and shadow have chased each other across our scene.
The spirit of [our] enterprise is as bright as ever. Not a word
of complaint or anger has been heard on board.
There is a rush to be first when work is done,
desire to sacrifice [selfishness] to
the success of the expedition. Fortune would be hard
indeed if it allowed such knowledge, experience,
ability, and enthusiasm to achieve nothing.
Song 2: Land at Last
After many frowns, fortune has treated us
to the kindest smile: A solid wharf
on which to land our stores; the golden light
on this scene of mountain and ice...
The landing: A week's work. After the sledges
came the ponies. Poor brutes,
how glad they must be to scratch themselves!
A message came from the ship to say
that all [the] stores had been landed. Nothing remains
but mutton, books, pictures and the pianola.
The hut is becoming the most comfortable
dwelling-place imaginable. We have made unto ourselves
a truly seductive home, within the walls of which
peace, quiet and comfort reign supreme.
Song 3: Penguins
Wilson went over the floe
to capture some penguins.
We saw the birds run up to him,
then rush away again.
He says: "most comical and interesting;
they will always come up at a trot when
we sing to them.
Explorers singing at the top of their voices to admiring penguins:
'[Well] she's got bells on her fingers and rings on her toes,
elephants to ride upon wherever she goes.
[So come to your nabob and next Patrick’s Day.
Be Mister Mumbo Jumbo Jijiboo J.
Sure I’ve got rings on my fingers and bells on my toes,
elephants to ride upon my little Irish Rose.
So come to your nabob and next Patrick’s Day.
Be Mister Mumbo Jumbo Jijiboo J.’]
Meares is the greatest attraction: a full voice
which is musical but always very flat.
He declares that 'God save the King'
will always send them back to the water."
They waddle forward, poking their heads
to and fro, in their odd way,
in spite of a string of howling dogs
straining to get at them.
‘[Hello],’ they seem to say, 'here's a game--
what do all you ridiculous things want?
Oh, that's the sort of animal you are;
well, you've come to the wrong place.'
(The first two lines of stanza three are from Wilson’s account of the explorers singing “She’s Got Rings on Her Fingers,” a popular song by Maurice Scott, R.P. Weston, and F.J. Barnes published in 1908. He misremembers the exact lyrics. I have added the chorus and another verse of the song, using the actual lyrics.)
Song 4: Impressions on the March
The hardening process must be good
for animals though not for men.
String of ponies progressing over the ice,
following in each other's tracks.
The dogs are very tired to-night.
Pathetic to see the ponies floundering.
The small green tent and the great white road.
The whine of a dog and the neigh of our steeds.
The driving cloud of powdered snow.
The crunch of footsteps which break the surface crust.
The gentle flutter of our canvas shelter.
Its deep booming under the full force of a blizzard.
The eternal silence of the great white desert.
The vast silence broken only by
the mellow sounds of the marching column.
Song 5: In Winter Quarters
Here the outward show is nothing,
it is the inward purpose that counts.
Every incident pales
before the startling contents of
the mail: Amundsen
established in the Bay of Whales.
One thing only fixes in my mind:
To go forward and do our best
for the honour of the country
without fear or panic.
Wilson, withal ready and willing.
Evans, with a clear-minded zeal.
Bowers is the hardest traveller
that ever undertook a Polar journey.
Oates' whole heart is in the ponies.
Boys, all of them, but such good-
natured ones. No friction at all.
I do not think that harder men or better
travellers ever took the trail.
Held the usual Morning Service.
Hymns not quite successful to-day.
'Who is man and what his place,
In the recklessness of space,
What has he, this atom creature,
In the infinitude of nature?' (Palgrave)
Song 6: Summit, the Pole and Beyond
We kill another pony to-morrow night. We have all taken
to horse meat. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.
Our case is growing desperate. Yet, after all, one can go on striving.
What castles one builds now hopefully…the Pole is ours.
Oh! for a few fine days!
The worst has happened. A flag near the remains
of a camp: The Norwegians are first at the Pole.
Great God! this is an awful place. Well, we have turned
our back on ambition and must face 800 miles of solid dragging.
Evans shows signs of being played out; his wounds
suppurate, broken down in brain, frostbitten,
a wild look in his eyes. He died quietly.
Beautiful day--too beautiful. We talk of little but food;
Amongst ourselves we are unendingly cheerful, but
what each man feels in his heart I can only guess.
Oates lame this morning. We cannot help each other,
can only say 'God help us!' and plod on our weary way.
Should this be found I want these facts recorded.
Oates proposed we leave him. That we could not do.
He said, 'I am just going outside and may be some time.'
Every day we have been ready to
start for our depot 11 miles away,
but outside the tent it remains
a scene of whirling drift.
My thoughts are for my wife and boy.
Had we lived, I should have had a tale
of the hardihood, endurance,
and courage of my companions
which would have stirred the heart....
I do not think I can write more.
For God's sake look after our people.
Send this diary to my wife.
Send this diary to my widow.
What lots I could tell you of this journey.
MSG Lynn Cunningham*
MSG William Treat
MSG Julie Ditzel
SFC James Mullins*
SSG Katherine Wilcox
SFC Rachel Grasso
SGM David Hydock**
SFC Christopher Jones
SFC John Parrette*
SSG Diana Cassar-Uhl
SSG Erin Foster
SSG Jeffrey Geller
SSG Sinclair Hackett
SSG Shawn Herndon
SSG Jennifer Tibbs
SSG Sam Kaestner
SGM David Hydock**
SFC Christian Eberle*
SSG Glenn West
Ms. Jessica Lang
SFC Wayne Tice*
SSG Brian Broelmann
SSG Christopher Rettie
Mr. Erik Holmgren
SGM Robert Smither**
MSG Gregory Alley*
SFC Stephen Luck
SSG Denver Dill
SSG Bryan Uhl
Ms. Joyce Toth
MSG Harry Ditzel*
SFC Susan Davidson
SSG Eric Kuper
SSG Troy Messner
MSG Douglas Remine
SFC Lori Salimando-Porter
SFC Martin Tyce*
SSG Matthew Wozniak
SSG Jason Ham
SSG Barry Morrison*
MSG Gerald Cates*
SFC Thomas Price
MSG Andrew Csisack*
MSG Eric Sheffler
SFC Dana Kimble
SSG Rone Sparrow
SSG Alex Frederick
MSG Louis Pappas
MSG Gerald Cates
** Group Leader or NCOIC
* Section Leader
Conductors: COL Thomas Rotondi, Jr., CPT Tod Addison *
Producer: SFC David Hershey
Recording Engineers: SFC David Hershey, SFC Blair Ferrier
Editing & Mastering: SFC David Hershey
Graphic Design: SFC Christian Eberle
Publicity Coordinator: SGM David Hydock
Text: SSG Sam Kaestner, Perry Goldstein, Evan Chambers
Photos: Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce
This production was recorded March 7-11, 2005 at the Lycian Center Theater in Sugar Loaf, New York. We wish to express our appreciation to Susan Logothetis and her staff for making this an enjoyable experience.