Saxophone Nonet (SSAAATTBBs)
(Also adapted for clarinet nonet)
Prestidigitations is an exciting concert piece inspired by magic illusions. The piece is constructed essentially from one simple idea: a stream of upward-moving notes — in intervals of seconds and thirds — that keeps restarting, creating off-kilter rhythmic patterns.
Prestidigitations is divided into three sections, separated by moments when the saxophones alight on a single note. In the middle section, the single note slowly grows into a series of climaxes, each building in tension until reaching an ultimate "ta-dah" moment. In the final section, the beginning is recalled before the higher saxophones are sent hurtling upward in a never-ending spiral and the low saxes play a raucous conclusion. The stream of intervals occurs at several moments in the piece, and was written with an auditory illusion in mind: the Shepard glissando.
The word "prestidigitation" is a synonym for "sleight of hand." Perhaps it is a household word for some magicians, but not many others. Plus, it's not easy to say! I first learned the word from my wife, who had just heard it on a TV show and was having a very hard time repeating it! I was no help since I hadn't even heard it before. In light of this humorous and endearing memory, the middle section of the piece prominently features a "stuttering" rhythm.
Purchase the score:
(Video excerpt begins on p. 14)
LUCA School of Performing Arts, Leuven, Belgium
March 29, 2018
(Version for Clarinet Nonet): Robert Spring and the Arizona State University Clarinet Ensemble, SCI Region VII Conference, Arizona State University
October 13, 2017
Paul Nolen and the Illinois State University Saxophone Ensemble:
North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) National Conference, Texas Tech University
March 11, 2016
Red Note New Music Festival, Illinois State University
April 7, 2016