Carnival Capers (Concerto for soprano saxophone and chamber orchestra, 2012) was commissioned for premiere performance by soloist Barry Cockcroft with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Clark Rundell, at the World Saxophone Congress XVI, July 10, 2012 in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, UK.
The first movement, entitled “Hammering the bell”, is inspired by a fairground attraction known as a “High Striker”. Wielding a large mallet, a contestant strikes a lever in an attempt to send a puck shooting up a tower to strike a bell. The hammering of the lever and the clang of the bell may be heard amidst the colours of my orchestration, while the climbing and falling motion of the puck has inspired the melodic contours of the saxophone solo.
“Circle in the sky” is the title given to the second movement. Again, it is inspired by a fairground attraction – the giant wheel or “Ferris Wheel”. The movement commences with an industrial feel featuring a shadowy contrabassoon solo, rumble of generator, tremolo of warm air and twinkle of glockenspiel ‘fairy lights’. As the giant wheel turns on its harmonic cycle, we move smoothly up into the heights, through clouds of cymbal and strings and into a cool, icy atmosphere where the solo saxophone engages in a flight of fancy.
The third and final movement, “High roller”, takes its inspiration from a wind-in-your-hair roller coaster ride. Enroute, we tackle some steep descents, bumps and sharp turns, catch sight of the High Striker and Ferris Wheel, then dangle precariously on a musical knife-edge while the soloist negotiates a cadenza.
I warmly thank Barry Cockcroft, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conductor Clark Rundell and the organisers of the World Saxophone Congress XVI for presenting the world premiere of the work. I also wish to gratefully acknowledge the financial assistance of the Music Board of the Australia Council and the generous support and encouragement of reedmusic.com.