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Explorations- Miguel Bolivar’s Saxophone Quartet

October 11, 2009

Miguel Bolivar’s Saxophone Quartet will finish up this Set of Explorations.  The work is an energetic frenzy requiring excellent technique, communication across the ensemble, and a nuanced handling.

Bolivar is a tenor saxophonist and composer residing in Elizabeth, NJ.  He earned degrees from Montclair State University and the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins.  His compositition teachers include Robert Livingston Aldridge and Michael Nathaniel Hersch, and his saxophone teachers include David Bixler, Dr. Jeremy Justeson and Gary Louie.  He enjoys salsa dancing and tennis when away from music.

Additionally the piece is performed by the AM/PM Saxophone Quartet, a quartet dedicated to the promotion of new music.  They recently performed at the Look Listen Festival in Brooklyn, among other engagements.  Hopefully they’ll post a 2010 schedule shortly.

The Saxophone Quartet was written in 2007 and premiered by AM/PM in Baltimore in 2008.  In four movements, with two running consecutively, the quartet explores contrasting settings for the musical material heard at the very beginning of the work.  Starting off slow and then quickly snowballing into a furious rush, the first two movements don’t resolve so much as fall to the feet of the third movement.  This movement builds a tense groove where the lower instruments find ways to come out of the background texture to play with the soprano saxophone.  The final movement reviews the opening gestures but in a somber tone with meditative space between each idea.  The work proves to end in this manner, proving to be a somber conclusion to the tension that existed throughout the first three movements.

What fascinates me about the work is how music that appears to be themes prove to be transitions to much more declarative material.  The form is fluid in that sense, even thought feels well defined from section to section.  The energy also is maintained from beginning to end, which is a credit to not just the composer but the ensemble.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    March 24, 2010 9:39 pm

    Awesome music!

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