With Eyes Open (2015)
for Alto Saxophone and Piano
Duration: 8 min
Commission: Festival of New American Music
Premiere: Keith Bohm, alto saxophone and John Cozza, piano
April 28, 2016; Sacramento, CA
Program Note: “With Eyes Open” takes as its source material an earlier piece of mine entitled “with both eyes” written in 2008 for Flute, Guitar, Vibraphone and Piano. In “With Eyes Open” the original material is reimagined for Alto Saxophone and Piano, a process that felt very organic especially because the premise of the initial composition was to write a piece that would create a unified whole from multiple perspectives on the same musical materials. As in life, so in music, the only way to gain multiple perspectives on an idea, and to truly begin to know the depth of these ideas, is to open oneself completely to the idea of possibility. Taking a composition originally written for four divers instruments and creating a new piece was opening myself up to these new possibilities.
The painter David Hockney wrote, “Cézanne starts to look at the cup before him with both eyes, opening one and then the other, and painting his doubts.” Only through a synthesis of these multiple perspectives did Cézanne see the truth, his truth, in the cup he was painting. With both eyes open then is the only way to really see things one has not seen before, and in the process gaining a perspective that is only possible by embracing and indeed celebrating the very possibilities inherent in the material itself.
“With Eyes Open” was commissioned by Keith Bohm and the 38th Annual Festival of New American Music.