Premiered on February 25th, 2022 by Derek Granger at the International Conference for Saxophone Pedagogy and Performance, presented virtually.
Vocalissimus was written in 2018 based on Wallace Stevens’ poem, To the Roaring Wind, centering on the titular reference of this work for solo alto saxophone. Vocalissimus comes from the latin root, vocalis which means, “that which utters a voice; sounding, singing,” often refering to a muse by which a poet or musician responds to and is inspired by.
Stevens’ muse – “the roaring wind” – provides the frame of this work, with the first, third, and fifth movements being built from a collection of gestures that imitate the sound of wind. The order of each gust of wind is at the discretion of the performer, allowing it to be different from performance to performance. The middle two movements provide the meat and potatoes of the composition, with the second movement featuring fast, rythmic writing imitating syllabic statements of spoken text. The fourth movement is a lyrical lullaby that evokes the poetic line, “in the distances of sleep.” Melodic gestures are interpolated between wavering and steadily expanding gestures while the altimssimo range of the saxophone is exploited for its lyrical abilities.
Vocalissimus was premiered via live-stream on February 25th, 2022 at the International Conference for Saxophone Pedagogy and Performance by Derek Granger.
To the Roaring Wind, by Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
What syllable are you seeking,
In the distances of sleep?