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Five Bird Solos : for soprano saxophone

by Ross Edwards (2020)

Work Overview

These pieces I composed for my friend Amy Dickson to perform online from her home in London while the Covid-19 crisis disrupts live concerts all over the world, isolating musicians from one another and reducing them to working with short solos or duos. Each is dedicated to a friend and colleague.

The surface of my music is often enlivened by fragmentary references to birdsong from the mountains and coastal forests of Australia. Although I rarely attempt literal transcription, birdsong can set my imagination on its own melodic journey and has recently come to symbolize a yearning for freedom in a shutdown world.

1. Bird in The Soul - insistent phrases jostle one another for attention in a string of implied or half-remembered birdsong - dedicated to the acclaimed saxophonist Amy Dickson.

2. Halcyon, named after the mythical bird that glides serenely above the ocean, calming the wind and waves, cherishes the memory of Australian composer Martin Wesley-Smith, who died in September 2019.

3. Crow Dance - the crow figures prominently in the Dreamtime stories of Aboriginal Australia as healer and conjurer, who by sleight of hand is responsible for bringing fire to humankind. My quirky dance/chant seeks to portray him as an impetuous other-worldly spirit. Crow Dance is dedicated to composer Vincent Plush, to mark the occasion of his 70th birthday in 2020.

4. Reverie on a Mountain Birdcall - The arresting cry of the pied currawong echoes through the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where I sometimes go to compose.

5. Chirp - a joyful melodic outpouring as from a tree full of birds celebrates the 75th birthday of composer Barry Conyngham as well as his retirement from a distinguished academic career.

— Ross Edwards

Work Details

Year: 2020

Instrumentation: Soprano saxophone (or Bb clarinet).

Duration: 12 min.

Difficulty: Medium

Contents note: 1. Bird in The Soul -- 2. Halcyon -- 3. Crow Dance -- 4. Reverie on a Mountain Birdcall -- 5. Chirp.

Written for: Amy Dickson


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