Chamber Concerto No. 1

From Wind Repertory Project
Jess Langston Turner

Jess Langston Turner

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Subtitle: For Soprano Saxophone and Wind Octet

General Info

Year: 2012
Duration: c. 17:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Unknown
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


1. A Dispute with One’s Self (Over Nothing)
2. Two Interludes (Death and Taxes)
3. Superfly
4. Rigor Vitae
5. Living with a Lead Foot


Soprano Saxophone
Wind Octet


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The Chamber Concerto No. 1 for solo soprano saxophone and wind octet explores the common ties that bind every human being together in some small way. The concept of “six degrees of separation,” which has been in vogue since after World War I, may now be passé due to the advent of the World Wide Web, social media, and faster and more readily available transportation. In fact, recent experiments using the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter have resulted in a calculation of 4.74 and 3.435 degrees of separation respectively between two random users. Our world is becoming smaller and smaller directly in proportion to the extent of the development of our networking capabilities.

The first movement, An Argument with One’s Self (over nothing), explores the potential for opposing ideological forces within any given person at any time and the internal decision-making struggle created by these opposing forces. The first 16th-note run played by the solo saxophone consists of interlocking three-pitch units consisting of a perfect 4th, a minor 3rd, and a major 2nd. This opening statement is capped off with another three -note motive consisting of a major 3rd and a minor 3rd. It is out of these two motives that all of the musical material for the rest of the piece is drawn. The individual components of these two motives are occasionally separated out or arranged in different combinations in order to represent a complex problem-solving thought process such as the human mind is capable of undertaking.

The second movement is a sonic representation of the two proverbial certainties in life, Death and Taxes. While Taxes may not be as certain for some people as others, Death is a universally shared human experience that has or will affect each and every one of us.

Jack is a happy person. He is 18, a large trust fund has just been released to him, his application to the small exclusive liberal arts university where his parents are venerated donors has just been accepted (with a free ride!), and he is preparing for a summer of backpacking through Europe with his two best friends. He has no responsibilities, more money than he knows what to do with, and a future that is beyond bright. In short, he is a Superfly kind of guy. He strolls jauntily down the street singing and whistling snatches of melody and high-fiving complete strangers. Soon the inhabitants of his small town begin to celebrate his good fortune with him. The festivities begin to take the form of a lively ensemble number at the end of a Broadway musical until the town’s citizens begin to realize that, while Jack may be footloose and fancy-free, they all have a variety of responsibilities to attend to. Eventually they drift away, leaving Jack to celebrate alone.

Rigor Vitae is a play on the Latin term “Rigor Mortis” as well as a general description of common human affliction. Job 5:7 reads “Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” Every person, rich, poor, or in between experiences some sort of suffering in life. I thought it was fitting to style the music of this movement in a distinctly Medieval manner, using techniques of organum, cantus firmus, and canon to hearken back to a time in history where there was no health care, very little personal freedom (except for the nobility and clergy), no social safety net whatsoever, and a 75% poverty rate.

The final movement, Living with a Lead Foot, has a dual meaning. The first is figurative, describing the speed at which contemporary society moves. Seemingly everyone has 500+ Facebook friends, an active Twitter account, and a blog in addition to the million other things on the schedule every day. Connections between individuals are perpetually being formed and broken as we dash madly through each day. The other purpose of this movement is to describe my experiences navigating the freeways, skyways, throughways, beltways, and expressways of the major cities of the eastern seaboard of the U.S.A. In turns terrifying, comical, and frustrating, this movement brings the Chamber Concerto No. 1 to a dramatic and virtuosic close.

- Program Note by composer


None discovered thus far.

State Ratings

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Works for Winds by this Composer