There Was Yet No Heaven
for fixed media
Saxophones: Wilson Poffenberger
Double bass: Adriano Orrù
The title is borrowed from a verse by poet Ahmad Shamlou:
There was yet no heaven
No snake, no apple
And no fig leaf to teach shame
To the crevice of wheat.
Earth had no flexibility
It was a future planet
A lopsided rock suspended
That knew no orbit.
This piece is a musical depiction of the creation of the world, based on the biblical account. It is also a conflict between good and evil, which is represented in the composition by the saxophone’s two distinctly different types of expression.
The piece begins with the breath of the saxophonist resonating throughout the body of the instrument. Gradually the tone becomes harsh, accumulating in sound until it drops out. There is a breaking point where the musical language changes, right after we have a mysterious monologue in saxophone. A soprano saxophone in a very high frequency , which is followed with a flood of manipulated saxophone glissandos. These motives get twisted into each other and build a long ascending crescendo as the climax, and this thick texture eventually becomes a solo multi-phonic sound and exact opposite of the beginning, this sound becomes air and the last breath of the player. It seems like the entire musical world is coming from the breath of the player and the saxophonist is the storyteller.
World Premiere: November 13th, 2017
Bates Recital Hall, Butler School of Music
The University of Texas at Austin