for Soprano and Alto Saxophones and Piano

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  • Commissioned by/written for
    Stephen Page (and Kenneth Tse)
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Paradosis was commissioned by Stephen Page, at the time a doctoral saxophone student of Dr. Kenneth Tse at the University of Iowa. The work was begun on August 5, 2010 and completed on the 28th of that month. The title derives from an ancient Greek word meaning "handing over" or "passing down." Historically, it has been used as a theological term designating the passing down of the Christian faith from one generation to the next. However, it should be obvious that any part of the culture of mankind must be passed down in such fashion, if culture is to survive. This is particularly true also in music, where not only the technical skills necessary to master an instrument are passed down from teacher to pupil, but the art of making music as well. Thus, Stephen Page, as a pupil of Kenneth Tse, can also trace his musical heritage back through Eugene Rousseau, Tse's former teacher, and Himie Voxman, Rousseau's former teacher, who himself studied with Gustave Langenus. And future generations of saxophone players will look back to Dr. Page as their musical father, grandfather or great-grandfather. I composed this work, then, to represent this passing down of the art of music-making. After an opening flourish by the "teacher" (the alto saxophone), the "student" (the soprano saxophone) begins with a very simple line that could be played by a beginner on the instrument.This "pupil" is a very quick learner, however, and advances rapidly to the point where he can imitate the phrases, increasingly more complex and difficult, that the teacher plays. Not very far into the piece, pupil is matching teacher, playing along with him, phrase by phrase. At the end of the piece, the pupil takes over the role of the teacher, and the alto saxophone becomes the pupil, playing the same simple phrase that the soprano saxophone played at the opening of the work, suggesting the passing down of the art of saxophone playing to yet another generation. The musical style of Paradosis is in my usual free tonality, but with suggestions of an ancient culture through the use of modal scales and open fifths.

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