frank stemper

2304: Between the Alley and the Shorewood

Sanitarium (2003)

for alto sax and digital audio - 15 minutes



The saxophone part of 2304: Between The Alley and the Shorewood Sanitarium is virtuosic from many standpoints: disjunct rhythms, stratospheric range, precise synchronization with the audio – even though there is often no audible pulse or rhythm from which to gage the timing and, of course, the performer must also play beautifully!  Only two brave musicians have performed this piece: Todd Rewoldt, last seen wandering the new music highway in San Diego (he's a Prof. at Cal State SD), who premiered it and who has performed it many times including festivals in Memphis Tennessee and Alberta Canada.  The other is one of my Mexican pals, Dante Bazúa, who is Principal Oboist with the Tijuana Symphony Orchestra.  Dante, although he was primarily an oboist, undertook the project of learning the piece on his second instrument, alto sax.  Although I wrote the piece for Todd, and the digital audio is 50% his recorded saxophone, manipulated beyond recognition, Dante actually gets the credit for premiering the piece - in Mexico. 

The title is the composer’s childhood address, a rather modest home, a bungalow really, that “housed” a flock of Polish kids, two chain-smoking parents, cigarette smoke (trapped inside the small bungalow for the Wisconsin winters), a variety of pets and lots of laughter. It was located in a modest working-class neighborhood, complete with an alley in back for garages, block parties, basketball, and other games. When the house was sold, the composer’s five sisters were quite upset by this “next step” in life’s chronology. The composer is one of seven children of a Jazz Singer and a Psychiatrist (mother – father respectively), which more than one critic has regarded as a perfect genetic code for the creation of a modern composer.  And the family home was located across the street from the father’s place of business – a mental hospital.



Last Updated: August 20, 2008

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