Ditties (1997), Kim D. Sherman

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Ditties (1997), Kim D. Sherman
Year of Composition: 1997     Composed for the ASQ


Buffalo News, The (Buffalo, NY)
Friday, March 30, 2001
A delightful potpourri
Garaud MacTaggart

Ever Since Adolphe Sax invented his lung- and reed-powered assemblage of curved metal tubing and multitudinous buttons, there have been classical composers that were intrigued by its sonic possibilities. These days it is an instrument more closely associated with jazz, blues and honkin' R&B instead of Debussy, Glazunov and Hindemith. Now, on the cusp of a new century, things are meshing together, and a new generation of classical composers is still looking at and being intrigued by this unique instrument.

That was and is the whole thrust of just about any Amherst Saxophone Quartet concert during the past 20-some odd years and this was certainly the case Thursday night as they unveiled six mutant works that range from the overtly serious to the playful. There were moments where Duke Ellington shook hands with Norton Feldman and times when echoes of gospel shouts whipped between phantom preachers and congregations. It was all a delightful potpourri and a good way to end the group's season. The evening started out with Dana Wilson's "Come Sunday Mornin'," as the members of the quartet entered from different corners of Slee Hall at the University at Buffalo North Campus, bringing their sound together physically and audibly. Wilson was in the audience for this performance and dutifully received applause. Robert Carl also was present and his "Duke Meets Mort," an effort at combining the styles of Duke Ellington and Mort Feldman, was fairly successful, also garnering kudos from the people present.

"Drastic Measures" by Russell Peck closed out the first half of the program with a well-constructed score wherein the quartet engaged in piquant harmonies and the tossing of riffs back and forth, generation a strong pulse that showcased the group's rhythmic flair. The back end of the evening was a blend of whimsy and seriousness. The world premiere of Kim D. Sherman's "Ditties" unveiled a set of seven snippets with the two longest of them timing in around 30 seconds, give or take a few moments while the others were ephemera to the tune of 10-15 seconds. It generated the chuckles that the composer (via the medium of tenor saxophonist Stephen Rosenthal) hoped it would. "Sax Appeal" was composed by David Stock specifically for the Amherst Saxophone Quartet and proved to be the major event on the program. His four-movement score was filled with jazz quotes and featured, in the "Jump" portion, a near constant rise and fall of rhythm patterns with melody lines strung between the beats like fresh laundry on a breezy day. The "Blues" section of the piece showcased some mid-tempo, 21st century blues bobbing and weaving but the "Sarabande" went from a beautifully articulated opening to breathy punctuations before winding back to a lovely ending. All in all, another fun, interesting concert from the Amherst Saxophone Quartet. This program will be repeated at 7:30 tonight in Westminster Presbyterian Church. A broadcast of their program can be heard at 4 p.m. Sunday on WBFO-FM.

Sax Appeal (1990), David Stock
Duke Meets Mort (1992), Robert Carl
Drastic Measures, Russell Peck
Ditties (1997), Kim D. Sherman
A delightful potpourri

Composer Biography

KIM D. SHERMAN hails from the great mid west and has spent most of her adult life trying to escape it. She makes excellent pie crust and a wide variety of interesting £lans. She has two cats, one of whom, Miss Otis, cannot be touched by anyone but Ms. Sherman. Despite this difficult domestic situation, she got married earlier this year to John Sheehy of the vast Sheehy clan, but she did not change her name. She is a charter member of Gals With Tools.

Ms. Sherman graduated from the Conservatory of Music at Lawrence University, and also studied with opera composer Thea Musgrave. She has written incidental music on Broadway for I Hate Hamlet at the Walter Kerr Theater, and for plays in many regional theaters. For the musical theater, Kim D. Sherman has written scores for HeartLand, 0 Pioneers', The Two Orphans, and Leaving Queens, among others. HeartLand is optioned by Benjamin Mordecai and will be directed by Susan Schulman. 0 Pioneers! is scheduled for touring with The Acting Company in their 2001 season. Chamber works include Real World for classical guitar and english horn, Prairie Diary a song cycle for soprano, piano and clarinet, and Ditties, a comic work for saxophone quartet. For the fall of 2001, Ms. Sherman is commissioned by the San Jose Chamber Orchestra to write a chamber work for soprano, string orchestra and harp, with text based on The Song of Solomon.

Composition Notes

"One day I was showing my friend Jayne Atkinson how to use the software program, Finale. I wrote a funny little piece and had the computer play it back. Jayne laughed and said: "It's a ditty!" and Ditties was born. I was invited by the ASQ to arrange it for saxophone quartet, and I wrote the other six movements over the next few months, in between other music projects. " -Kim D. Sherman