Program Book 1987-1988 page 27
The Octets

CLASSICAL MUSIC by Nils Vigeland

Nils Vigeland was born in Buffalo, New York, and made his professional debut as a pianist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in 1969. He has maintained a dual career as both composer and performer. The founder of the Bowery Ensemble, a new music group which presents an annual series of concerts at Cooper Union, NYC, he gave the first performance with Eberhard Blum of Morton Feldman's For Christian Wolff at the Darmstadt Summer Course for New Music in the summer of 1985. Recent performances of his own music have included One Three Five by the Buffalo Philharmonic and Piano Concert by the Oslo Radio Orchestra.

"When I am asked at times what kind of music I write and my questioner is not versed in the descriptive codewords of new music's many warring camps; the minimalists, the serialists, the new romantics, the never-went-away romantics, the eclectics, the avant-garde, the new wave, the art rockers, the meditationists, the new agers, the crossoverists, the academics, the conceptualists — it is difficult to find the right word to set someone straight. Difficult and frustrating. So I have written a piece with a title (fully aware of its import and without irony) that will allow me to answer this question with a clear conscience — I write classical music. Classical Music for string quartet and saxophone quartet was commissioned by the Chester String Quartet, the Mendelssohn String Quartet, and the Amherst Saxophone Quartet under the Consortium Commission Grant Program of The National Endowment for the Arts and is dedicated to those three ensembles." — Nils Vigeland


STORMS by Michael Sahl

Michael Sahl is a composer of classical music, popular music, and something in between. He has composed the operas Civilization and Its Discontents, winner of the Prix ltalia in 1980 (Nonesuch Records), and Boxes (American Public Radio, 1982), holds a National Endowment for the Arts commission for the piece Storms and is winner of a New York Foundation for the Arts grant for 1986. He is also the arranger-pianist of the Tango Project, which made three best-selling classical LP's for Nonesuch, the latest of which is Music from the Palm Court. His recent instrumental work appears on the Musical Heritage album Music from the Exiles' Cafe.

"The title Storms refers to storms of passion and anguish. The music is about the turmoil of inner life, as some music used to be a long time ago. The combined two groups are used, therefore, as a kind of "orchestra" and the similarities and blends of strings and saxophones are exploited, rather than their pure colors. The purpose of this is to create a dark, rich background, or "gravy;' which is intended to be sometimes upsetting and sometimes blissful. I feel it is necessary for me to say, because of some sixty years of modernism, that this piece means just what it appears to mean. There isn't a hidden key, or an "aesthetic distance" or a "confounding of traditional iconograph." The style of the music may seem eclectic, but it is deeply unified at the level of the Harmonic language.
"There were ten years of my life (circa 1956-66) when I tried very hard not to write music like this, but ultimately there was no way of repressing it forever. I am not observing other composers who have lived through similar kinds of denial and who are rediscovering their pre-modern or post-modern selves. This is not a process unified around a "basic sound" but an effort to revive all the diverse pantheon of sources forbidden and extinguished in the name of modernism. There is a lot to do, and this is just a piece of it." — Michael Sahl

Amherst Saxophone Quartet Program Book Octets