Aegean Perspective [flûte, clarinette, saxophone alto, tuba et percussion / flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, tuba and percussion]
[flûte, clarinette, saxophone alto, tuba et percussion / flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, tuba and percussion]
Leslie Maaser, flûte / flute
Randall Paul, clarinette / clarinet
Jason Smith, tuba
Martin Jenkins, percussion
1. Pluto and Persephone
"Pluto, arising from the Underworld, spied the lovely Persephone gathering flowers in the glade and stole her against her will to be his bride. It wasn't a happy marriage. They had very little in common, his being the King of the Dead and her being the daughter of the Goddess of Growing Grain. In the end, however, the marriage survived. They worked out a compromise. She went home to her mother for part of the year, and the land flourished putting forth crops and flowers in abundance. But Pluto missed her and eventually she had to go back to his kingdom leaving the land once again desolate until her return the following year. They got used to it." (Tuba and flute have the main parts with the tuba, accompanied by the roll of the bass drum, rising from the depths and the flute attempting to escape but eventually accepting the duet. There are two moods: one for the time Persephone spends above ground when the earth prospers, and the second darker mood when she must return to Hades.)
2. Ariadne and Theseus
"Ariadne gave Theseus a thread to find his way out of the Labyrinth where he went to slay the dreadful half man half bull Minotaur. If only someone could grant me such a thread to guide my groping way through the internet." (A theme or "thread" played by the saxophone winds its way through unusual progressions, rhythms, and modes representing the Labyrinth. Occasional clicks reminiscent of a computer hard drive and the rasp of the internet coming on-line are imitated by the percussion.)
"Sisyphus was condemned to push a large stone up a hill only to have it slip from his grasp and roll down just as he had finally reached the top. Some days I think I know just how he felt." (A rather heavily accented steady movement of notes accompanied by the bass drum depicting the constant trudging efforts of Sisyphus.)
4. Arachne and Minerva
"Arachne bragged that even the gods could not equal her skill in spinning and weaving. It's true, she had exceptional talent, but she shouldn't have boasted so much. A contest was set up between Arachne and Minerva, and although many felt her work to be comparable to that of the goddess, in the end, Minerva declared herself to be the winner and Arachne to be a spider. At least she's still doing what she likes best." (Spinning song with a tragic ending.)
5. The Muses
"The Muses, so lovely, so musicalwho would ever imagine the work behind the scenes." (Waltz trio of flute, sax, and clarinet with tuba and percussion playing the accompaniment.)
6. The Fates
"What about those Fates, weaving the threads of life! Such a tapestry, so complicated, rush hour lineups, new diseases to take you out, genetic engineering. We just don't know what's coming next anymore! Do you suppose the Fates can be controlled with high technology?" (The thread of the tune of Fate is passed with reckless abandon among the instruments until suddenly a snare drum rim shot cuts it off.)
"Atlas bore the weight of the heavens on his shoulders while humanity, oblivious to his distress, carried on busily beneath. If he just heaved a sigh and let everything go, would we be crushed, or would we organize and take over the task ourselves?" (Atlas's theme is a passacaglia-like dirge with humanity scurrying about in variation. There's a moment of chaos full of percussion when he lets go, but out of the chaos, humanity takes up the theme and turns it into a heroic and joyful anthem.)
|Shelley M. Jagow: Assistant Professor of Music, Wright State University; music director and conductor of the WSU Concert Band, WSU Saxophone Quartet, WSU Raider Varsity Pep Band, and Applied Saxophone.
A native of Saskatchewan, Canada, Shelley earned the Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Saskatchewan and the Master of Music Education degree from the University of Missouri (Columbia). She began her band directing career in Canada teaching in the Public Schools where she also served two years as Director of Bands for the Regina Police Band, and is currently the conductor for the Miami Valley Chamber Winds.
Shelley has performed with the Dayton Philharmonic Concert Band, the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, the UMC Saxophone Quartet, the U of S Saxophone Quartet, the U of S Jazz Ensemble, the UMC Wind Symphony, the U of S Wind Orchestra which represented Canada in the Netherlands at WASBE in 1989, and is a member of PAR-4, Miami Valley's newest saxophone quartet. She has commissioned several works for solo saxophone and ensembles from both national and international composers. Shelley has presented clinics and performances at OMEA, MENC and NASA, and remains active as a clinician, conductor, performer and adjudicator throughout the United States and Canada.
|Think of Aegean Perspective as Mycenaean Greek mythology with a modern slant. The musicians themselves will be narrating as well as playing, and the stories, although taken from original Greek legend, will have their own particular contemporary flavour. In some ways, that's the most authentic way to do it since, as is always the case with oral tradition, the life and times of the story teller figure prominently.
The unusual combination of saxophone, flute, clarinet, tuba, and percussion is especially effective for creating the wide palette of musical colours needed for this piece. For instance, in the first movement, "Pluto and Persephone," the tuba, dark and foreboding, rises from the underworld as Pluto, the God of the Dead, while the flute, delicate and feminine, portrays Persephone. The music is in two moods: one for the time Persephone spends above ground when the season of growth prevails; and one for the time when she must return to the Kingdom of the Underworld where she is now queen.
In the second movement, "Ariadne and Theseus," Ariadne's practical idea of giving Theseus a thread to mark his way through the Labyrinth where he has gone to slay the Minotaur is longed for in today's confusion of attempting to find one's way through the internet. A meandering theme, played by the saxophone, winds its way through unusual progressions, rhythms, and modes just as Theseus unwound the thread through the Labyrinth.
In the next movement, "Sisyphus," we all feel empathy with Sisyphus, who was condemned to push a large stone up a hill only to have it roll back down just as he almost reached his goal. The heavily accented steady movement of the music reflects his never ending labor.
The fourth movement, "Arachne and Minerva," is a spinning song to represent the contest between the mortal, Arachne, and the goddess, Minerva. One can only wonder at her audacity to challenge a goddess to a spinning competition, and as expected, it ends tragically.
Movement 5, "The Muses," a lovely and lyrical waltz played by the saxophone, the flute, and the clarinet with down beats by the tuba, might almost make one forget how much preparation and effort go into music making.
The 6th movement is devoted to "The Fates," who spin the thread of life deciding the birth, the destiny, and with a final snip, the death of each individual. There were three of them, and the thread of the melody is passed with reckless abandon amongst them to do with it as they will.
And finally, in the last movement, "Atlas" tires of his task of supporting the heavens on his shoulders and lets go. Humanity, after a brief period of chaos, take up his passacaglia-like theme played by the tuba, and heroically rise to the occasion as mankind shares the burden with the gods.