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PHRAGMITES IN THE STORM (2013) - for saxophone quartet

Premiere: SCI Winter Concert – Miami FL, February 18th, 2014


Duration:  ca. 5 min


Program Note:


Looking out the train window every day on the commute from New Jersey to New York City, I encountered a strange landscape called the Meadowlands. This area consists primarily of marsh land in an urban surrounding, a colorful potpourri of nature and industry. Out the window there were lush beds of Phragmites grass, an invasive species of tall plant, surrounding the tracks. I was taken by the insistent flowing quality of the grass in inclement weather; when a storm raged they were like a chorus of reeds undulating in the wind with a background of skyscrapers shielded by fog and rain.

The instrumentation of the sax quartet popped in my mind, not only because they are a group of reed instruments, but also because they are capable of simultaneously evoking urban and pastoral imagery. For Phragmites in the Storm, I needed a vibrant and versatile ensemble with a uniformity of family to reflect the bed of invasive grass reeds. This piece aims to convey their rapid, synchronized motion in the storm, as well as the polluted urban landscape providing the backdrop.

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