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An Assemblage of Virtues for Solo Alto Saxophone by Paul Harris

An Assemblage of Virtues for Solo Alto Saxophone by Paul Harris


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June Emerson: Solo Alto Saxophone Part


A few words from Paul Harris;

Aspiring to living a virtuous life is what, I hope, we all strive for. An Assemblage of Virtues for Saxophone brings together six important virtues, which provided me with an interesting challenge in how best to try to portray them through music.

The first is Assertiveness which begins with a fanfare-like figure from which the whole piece derives. As with much of my solo instrumental writing there is a strong link with a particular harmonic colour, and here it is the minor (secondary) seventh on F – a sound I especially love.

Compassion uses larger intervals in its melodic language. The expressive nature requires a very free approach to the tempo – so in addition to the many rits and a tempos I have added the instruction to use lots of rubato.

Joyfulness, which is in a spritely compound time (a mixture of 6/8, 9/8, occasionally 5/8 and even a bar of 11/8!), derives a lot of its wit from the contrast of legato and staccato, and forte and piano.

Peacefulness is another expressive movement which explores particular the juxtaposition of triplet and non-triplet rhythms.

We move to a one-in-a-bar jazz waltz for Friendliness – a light hearted dance making quite a lot of the use of the Neapolitan relationship! It’s occasionally interrupted by a more expressive 5-note motif which, is in itself, interrupted by witty forte triplet.

As long as we wake up in the morning with a sense of purpose – something useful or important or challenging or simply enjoyable to look forward to – life is good.

The last movement, Purposefulness, is a musical interpretation of this thought. Playing it with the fast and energetic indication will completely bring out this sense of overriding positivity. Paul Harris, 2023

The world premiere recording by Victoria Samek will be available in February 2024.

Scoring: solo alto saxophone 
Standard: Moderate to Advance
Length: 5 minutes



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