Live Performance by Joe Connor, Steven Jordheim, and Sumner Truax
Sumner Truax Faculty Recital
Lawrence Memorial Chapel, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI
September 26th, 2015
I first became acquainted with and fascinated by the works of Flannery O’Connor, especially her short story collection Everything That Rises Must Converge, during my undergraduate studies at the University of South Carolina. O’Connor frequently presents characters whose limited understanding of their world or social circumstances draws them into grotesque situations or conflicts. Almost all of the stories are marked by slowly mounting tension, leading to a sudden outburst of violence that precipitates some kind of awareness or revelation—the self-righteous come to know their hypocrisy, the strong are made weak, and the traditionalists, clinging to their ideas about the old South, are swept aside by upheavals in socio-economic and race relations. These inversions, as well as the general idea of convergence, are the subjects of my piece.
Throughout, the identities of the three soprano saxophones merge, stretch to the point of breaking, and then separate again. At some points, they speak as three individuals, while at others they join together to elaborate a single melodic line. These brief convergences in rhythm, register, or pitch anticipate the climax of the piece. I was particularly interested in inverting the relationship between the purity of traditional saxophone playing and rougher, timbrally complex multiphonics. Instead of using multiphonics as exclamation marks—culminations of angst, ugliness, or tension—I wanted them to represent something rich, beautiful, and transfigured. Everything that rises was commissioned by Tyler Flowers, Justin Rollefson, and Samuel Detweiler.