“Soar” tells the story of an injured eagle who has been kept in captivity before being released back into the wild. In the opening material we hear the bird lamenting its loss of freedom and voicing its frustration. After this brief introduction, however, we hear the eagle instantly return to its natural state, flying freely and instinctively enjoying dancing in and out of the patterns of the wind whilst it travels on its journey to rejoin its aerie.
In the opening section, the saxophonist should take as much time as desired and enjoy the resonance of the silences between the notes. The saxophone’s material is punctuated with sparse piano chords, which should be allowed to resonate until their natural termination.
After the introduction, the main thematic material of the piece is stated. During the music that follows, the grouping of the 12/8 bars moves fluidly, as indicated by the note beams, reflecting the eagle dancing in and out of the natural patterns of the wind. For the majority of the piece, the left hand piano ostinato is in a standard 12/8 feel (3+3+3+3), whilst the right hand of the piano and the saxophone melody employ a 3+3+2+2+2 grouping against this. The saxophone melody should soar above the piano throughout, but the pianist should place emphasis on moments where the two parts come together, such as the accented notes in b. 139-145.
Ossias are provided in the saxophone part in the most technically demanding sections.
The PDF edition of “Soar” comes with an Eb saxophone part, piano accompaniment, and an MP3 play-along practice track.
To overcome the issue of the cadenza style opening, the recording includes the saxophone at a reduced volume up until the piano enters with the rhythmic figure at bar 28. At this point the saxophone drops out entirely from the recording. Due to the saxophone being included on part of the practice track it is not suitable for using in a live performance, but is an excellent and fun way of learning this fantastic work!
“Soar” was finalist in the 2016 CASS Saxophone Composition Competition.
“Soar” is also available in hard-copy from June Emerson Wind Music.