Ian Stewart


Purple Gong Orange Tam-tam

12 Alto saxophones - also version for 8 alto saxophones
(revised October, 2022)
(8 minutes)

First Performance: 29th June, 2007
Concert Hall - Royal College of Music, London

First Performance of revised version: 9th November, 2022
Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London

GSMD Saxophone Ensemble - director Naomi Sullivan

Purple Gong Orange Tam-tam

RCM Saxophone Ensemble - director Kyle Horch

Original Programme Notes:
The overriding influence on this work is late 60s' psychedelic music and there are hidden references to some of classic recordings of that period. There are many rock influenced themes played in octaves or parallel fifths, as well as a dreamy, spaced-out central section. Much original psychedelic music was electronic but there was also the frequent use of the saxophone. Not only did Gong have a saxophone player but Terry Riley also played soprano saxophone, performing long, trance like pieces with an electronic delay system. However I am not sure how many members of today's audience would be prepared to bring sleeping bags, and listen to a work for 12 alto saxophones, lasting several hours. Another influence, on a short textural section in this work, is obviously European classical music from the same period.
There is a particular quality of sound when several identical instruments are playing together, whether unison lines or widespread harmony, and it is invariably rewarding to write for such ensembles. Previously I have composed works for 5 alto saxophones and 4 tubas.