version for soprano saxophone and electronics(2022)
I. When You Fall Asleep in Transit
|Commission||Liminal Highway was commissioned by New Music USA and Miller Theatre at Columbia University for Tim Munro. The version for saxophone was created in collaboration with Julian Velasco.|
|Premiere||Original version for flute:|
November 10, 2016; Miller Theatre, Columbia University, New York City; Tim Munro, flute
Version for saxophone:
August 19, 2022; premiered on recording by Julian Velasco
|Technical requirements||Performer doubles on harmonica and beer bottles. See preview pages for technical details; further instructions are included in the score.|
Liminal Highway was originally conceived as a work for flute and electronics on a commission from Tim Munro. Inspired by a poem of the same name by the poet and songwriter John K. Samson, the five-movement work sought to explode the idea of a traditional flute solo by incorporating new techniques like key clicks, multiphonics, air sounds, and pre-recorded and live electronic processing.
The work premiered in 2016. A few years later, I began adapting Liminal Highway for the saxophone. Many saxophonists had approached me about a new work; I thought that many of the percussive sounds employed in Liminal would naturally lend themselves to the instrument.
Around this time I ran into Julian Velasco at a performance at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival at Mass MoCA. We got to chatting and he mentioned to me how much he liked Tim's performance of Liminal Highway, so I broached the idea of a sax version; the rest is history. The translation of the work was quite smooth, though some challenges like a stratospherically-high piccolo required some creative solutions.
The work is cast in five movements, each movement mirroring a line in Samson's poem. The first, "When you fall asleep in transit," is focused on layers of flutter-tongue (playing the instrument while rolling the tongue). It is played both on the soprano sax and also the harmonica—the solution to the abovementioned piccolo issue. The second, "A dream you don't recall," features the rhythmic and insistent clicking of keys before layers of slap-tongue, air, and overblown sax takes over. The third, "Between Consciousness and Sleep" alternates a stabbing high note against a bed of quiet multiphonics (using the "wrong fingering" to get two notes at the same time). The fourth, "Liminal," mirrors the second movement. And the final, the fifth, "Suddenly it is needed," reprises the harmonica and another found object—tuned discarded beer bottles, which are also played with the same flutter-tongue technique.
Liminal Highway was commissioned by New Music USA and Miller Theatre at Columbia University for Tim Munro. The version for saxophone was made in collaboration with Julian Velasco.