I first saw Arno Bornkamp play at the World Saxophone Congress in Montréal in July 2000. His performance was the North American premiere of Jacob ter Veldhuis’ Grab it! for tenor saxophone and boom-box. Electrifying. Game-changing. Both the piece and the performance.
Although we had a few small email exchanges, and interacted a bit on social media, I didn’t actually meet Arno in person until February 2018 at a Music and Aesthetics Symposium at The University of Florida. At the conference, Arno and I found some time to chat a bit about my music and his performances and recordings.
He asked me if I might be interested in writing a piece for solo baritone saxophone in the spirit of something like Kodály’s Sonata for Solo Cello, or even the Bach Suites. He added that there are very few, if any, works like these specifically composed for baritone saxophone, an instrument that has attracted more experimental works. Original works in the post-romantic spirit (not necessarily literal post-romantic works – just the spirit) have basically passed by the bari sax.
I happily accepted this challenge and composed Monology which captures the dramatic expressionism of internal conflict using an unashamed post-romantic tonal language combined with the powerfully vast range of the baritone saxophone, both dynamically and registrally. This is, of course, peppered with subtle references to current musical discourse.
I delivered Monology via email to Arno in August 2018. He premiered the piece on November 19 that same year at the Sax18 Festival at Conservatorium van Amsterdam, which I was privileged to attend.
That’s when Arno revealed to me the beginnings of his project Little Big Horn, a multimedia presentation and performance centered around the baritone saxophone.
I am am so grateful to Arno Bornkamp that Monology is included in this project, and am honored to be in such great company of composers including Jacob ter Veldhuis, Ryo Noda, Haiko Boonstra, André Arends, and Peter Vigh.
You will hear much more about Little Big Horn in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Check out the trailer below.