Howard Sandroff

Works for Orchestra

Concerto for Electronic Wind Instrument and String Orchestra (1988) was commissioned by saxophonist, Frederick Hemke. Mr. Hemke premiered the concerto with the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, during the International Saxophone Congress, August 1988. The Concerto is styled as a duet between a conventional string ensemble and the Yamaha WX7 MIDI Wind Controller.

The WX7 is a controlling device which sends computer information to a digital synthesizer in response to the performers breath pressure, finger position and lip pressure. In this composition, as in other recent works, I was challenged by the notion of static musical material (sound objects) which, rather than develop, are altered by continually changing association with other sound objects. Like a mobile, which constantly changes its form as the fixed shapes continually move in relation to each other. The work is dominated by an austere rhythmic ostinato which consists of three clusters (in different ranges) and a simply constructed chord made up of the original "object" of five pitches. As the ostinato reiterates, it begins to change as other "sound objects" grow from inside it. The ostinato exists in an ever-changing environment, which, sometimes punctuates and sometimes dominates through a continual shifting of accents, pauses, and foreground and background relationships. This material is freely shared by the ensemble and the soloist. The WX7 sounds from two locations. Location 1 is from the perspective of the soloist. Location 2 projects all of the electronic sounds which are part of the perspective and character of the ensemble. Two cadenzas divide the work into three sections. The first, foreshadows the original statement of the rhythmic ostinato. The second, takes on the character of an improvisation in that it freely builds upon some of the more obscure sound objects from the opening of the work.

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra was first conceived in 1983, when I decided to orchestrate and expand a work of mine for two pianos and electronic sounds on tape entitled, "...there is a decided lack of enthusiasm at my end of the leash." The work is best described as a "duet" for piano and orchestra rather than concerto. This duet quality does on occassion break down, especially when one considers of the virtuosic piano part and the two performer improvised cadenzas. Nevertheless, it was my desire to balence the orchestra with the piano in such a way as to highlight the timbral differences which occur when both &"instruments" are playing identical musical material. By way of explaining my musical and dramatic goals for this work, I am including the program notes I wrote in 1981 for the original two piano and tape version.

The Concerto for Piano and Orchestra was completed with support from the Illinois Arts Council's Composer Fellowship Program.

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