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World premiere of First Light at Uluru for saxophone orchestra

2 performances:
Friday 10 July, 6:00pm – Place Kléber Main stage, Strasbourg
Sunday 12 July, 3:15pm – Salle de la Bourse, Strasbourg

Terra Obscura: Saxophone Concerto
11 July Cité de la Musique et de la Danse, Strasbourg Conservatoire.

Katia Beaugeais presents her new saxophone concerto and her Doctorate research about the dual role of a composer-performer:

ayers rock


Concert Program Note for First Light at Uluru for sax orchestra

First Light at Uluru (2015) was commissioned by the Queensland Conservatorium Saxophone Orchestra and Diana Tolmie for world premiere performances at the 2015 World Saxophone Congress featuring 30 saxophonists in Strasbourg, France, Selmer Saxophone Showrooms in Paris, Ulverston in England with the Royal Northern College of Music, and other Australian ensembles in Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne.

First Light at Uluru has since been recomposed for wind symphony for a premiere at the ANBOC festival, Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Beaugeais’s newly adapted version for wind symphony was recorded by world-renowned didgeridoo player, William Barton, and the Royal Australian Navy Band for their 2018 CD “Spirit of Place”.

Both versions of First Light at Uluru continue to be performed around the globe, including Professor Kyle Horch and the Royal College of Music saxophone orchestra in London, NASA Sax Congress in North America, Adelaide Wind Orchestra, US premiere by the Texas Woman’s Wind Symphony, and the Japan premiere by Conductor Colonel Takahiro Higuchi and Japan Ground Self Defense Force Central Band, Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre Concert Hall.

First Light at Uluru is inspired by the spectacular sunrise over Uluru – Australia’s most famous icon. Also known as Ayers Rock, it is a giant red rock in the middle of Australia’s desert, with the ground made up of red soil. Uluru is sacred to the Anangu, the Aboriginal people of the area. Uluru means ‘Earth Mother’, and the 8.6 square kilometre rock is believed to hold a powerful energy source and marks the place where Dreamtime began.

First Light at Uluru begins with soothing air vibrato wind sound effects to reflect the peaceful and spiritual atmosphere of Ayers Rock, where only the soft wind gusts can be heard. As the sun slowly rises, soft, dream-like melodies gradually build up to chorale-like passages, exploring the beautiful, lyrical sounds of the saxophone orchestra. At dawn, the giant red rock changes colour, producing an illuminating red and orange glow. Multiphonic and quarter-tone trill textural effects convey this colouristic and illuminating image and showcases the palette of colours the saxophone orchestra can create. The technical sound possibilities when writing for a large number of saxophones is highlighted when all players improvise over a fast, semiquaver motif to produce a loud, kaleidoscopic, collage-like, textural sound mass that gradually transforms into soft air wind sounds to portray the tranquil and serene atmosphere of Uluru.

The compositional aim of First Light at Uluru is to showcase how unconventional contemporary playing techniques can also be used to create unique, calm, expressive and atmospheric passages, rather than in a modernistic style commonly associated with avant-garde repertoire.

© 2020 by Katia Beaugeais



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