Ian Stewart - composer musician


Soprano Saxophone : Marimba
(12 minutes 30 seconds)
Commissioned by Michaela Stapleton and Eri Kaishima

(The marimba part is written for a 5 octave marimba, starting on low C - 2 octaves below middle C.)

First performance: Friday, 8 March, 2013
St. John's Notting Hill
London - England
Cocora: Michaela Stapleton - soprano saxophone
Eri Kaishima - marimba


Cocora: Michaela Stapleton and Eri Kaishima

Programme Notes:

The marimba is an ancient instrument from the Americas and Africa, particularly Central America, yet sounds contemporary in European classical music. The saxophone is the opposite, a modern instrument.
In this work much use is made of four mallet chordal writing which has a unique resonance on the marimba, as well as repeated drone like phrases. The saxophone writing is influenced by my memory of first hearing Steve Grossman's early soprano saxophone playing, improvising over percussive jazz rock.
Although saxophone and marimba are rare in classical music, the sound world has precedents in the late 1960's, early 1970's jazz, where the use of wooden percussion, synthesized percussion and soaring soprano saxophone lines are heard on numerous significant recordings.
This work was commissioned by Michaela Stapleton and Eri Kaishima. The title refers to a section in a book I was reading at the time, by composer Ichiyanagi, about ancient resonances in contemporary music. He mentions a particular pitch, that is associated in Wu Xing, with the 'earth' element, its colour is 'yellow', and its season is mid-summer.