North American Saxophone Alliance 2018 Biennial Conference

I am excited to announce that this weekend I will be performing at the North American Saxophone Alliance 2018 Biennial Conference at the University of Cincinnati! Before I fly out in a couple of hours, I wanted to share my experience preparing for this performance:

At the beginning of December a few months ago, I received word that my grant application to the Saskatchewan Arts Board Independent Artists Program was accepted. My grant application outlined a project to create a suite of pieces for saxophone, live electronics, and recorded environment. The source material for the environment recordings would be locations relevant to my upbringing in Saskatchewan, captured via a recording device. Through blending live and written improvisation, each movement would encourage dialogue between the voice of the saxophone, the soundscape of the electronic effects, and the nuances of the recorded environment.

This project is the culmination of several ideas that have been floating around my head since I first began my studies at the University of Saskatchewan. I used to play a lot of electric guitar in high school, and I have been fascinated by the idea ever since of playing my saxophone through guitar effects pedals. Another central idea of this project is to converse with my memories: my childhood memories are strongly linked to sight, smell, and especially sound. Some of my strongest memories are linked to places with distinct natural sounds. My goal is to encourage a tripart dialogue between the saxophone, the electronic effects, and the soundscape of the environments that have made a strong impression in my memories.

Each movement of the suite would focus on a particular location and a particular time of the year. I have two movements to premiere at the conference in Cincinnati, both of which are winter-oriented. Once I return from the conference, I plan on writing at least three more movements that feature environment recordings during spring and summer. I hope to perform my new piece throughout the rest of the year in Saskatoon and various locations throughout Saskatchewan.

It has been a challenging but rewarding process composing these two movements. This was my first time ever composing something on my own for saxophone. I have been waiting for the right time in my career to experiment with composition, and I feel that my most recent musical influences and performances have pushed me in the right direction to make this project work. Some of my favourite recordings these days are from artists who haven’t let themselves be constricted by genre expectations, such as Canadian violinist Sarah Neufeld, Canadian pianist David Braid, and saxophonists Colin Stetson and Jan Garbarek. I feel that these artists create music that is true to themselves and consequently they are able to speak to audiences with a special kind of clarity and honesty. I am especially interested in their ability to blur the boundary between composition and improvisation. I look forward to seeing where this project takes me not only in the next couple of months but in my career as a saxophonist.

Thank you to the NASA 2018 Biennial Conference program committee for accepting my proposal, and a big thank you to the Saskatchewan Arts Board for allowing me the freedom to explore this project through the Independent Artists Program!

Click here for more information on the Saskatchewan Arts Board and their Independent Artists Program

Click here for more information on my performance at the NASA 2018 Biennial Conference