Sampen to Give Saxophone Recital Jan. 31

Jan. 22, 1996

by Richard Veit

John Sampen, who perhaps more than any other American artist has furthered the cause of contemporary composition for the saxophone, will appear at Baylor University in a guest recital on at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31, in Meadows Recital Hall. His performance is co-sponsored by The Selmer Company and the Baylor School of Music.

Every piece on his program received its world premiere by John Sampen. The late John Cage's "Four 5" was written for Dr. Sampen to perform at the 1992 World Saxophone Congress in Italy. One of the composer's final works, it freely employs his doctrine of musical indeterminacy.

Joan Tower's "Wings" was originally written for clarinet, but 10 years later (1991) the composer produced a saxophone version for John Sampen. With the use of live and pre-recorded sounds, it depicts the majesty of a bird in flight. "Drifting over a Red Place" by Marilyn Shrude is scored for saxophone, wind controller and visual slides. It dates from 1987, and was inspired by a painting by Ohio artist Dorothy Linden.

The most recent work on John Sampen's program is Mark Bunce's "Waterwings" of 1993. Bunce, who serves as Director of Recording Services at Bowling Green State University (where Sampen is on the music faculty), wrote this dreamlike piece for alto saxophone and interactive computer.

Donald Freund's "Killing Time" (1980) is a commentary on today's age of ugliness, violence, and wanton destruction. It features pre-recorded piano and electronic sounds, which the saxophonist "triggers" by the use of a foot pedal.

"A Short Lecture on the Saxophone" by William Bolcom (who has twice appeared at Baylor with his wife, Joan Morris) was written for Sampen's performance at the 1979 World Saxophone Congress in Chicago. It happily traces the brief history of the exotic saxophone.

Morton Subotnick wrote "In Two Worlds" in 1988 for alto saxophone and interactive computer, and Sampen presented its world premiere in England that year with the Electric Symphony. Set in a single, expansive movement, it casts the saxophonist in a heroic role.

Sampen's recital is free and open to the public. For more information, call the Baylor University School of Music at 755-3991.

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