I have admired Ken from my early days at the New England Conservatory in the 1970's, particularly as I got to know him better as a very talented saxophone student. He did yeoman work in our NEC recording of 1920's Paul Whiteman repertory recreations, enthusiastically playing a variety of saxophones and, if I recall correctly, bass clarinet.
I was impressed!

Since then Ken has over the years exhibited an unwavering and selfless devotion to both his own students (just as his own teacher Joseph Allard did) and the creation of new musical works. My new Saxophone Sonata is the second of my works to be premiered by Ken Radnofsky. Before World-Wide Concurrent Premieres existed as an organization to commission new works, Ken gathered together all of Joe's former students to commission my Concerto in Allard's honor.

Congratulations on thirty years of devoted teaching and beautiful music making!

Gunther Schuller




Kenneth Radnofsky, Soprano Saxophone and Alto Saxophone
Hui-Min Wang, Piano
John McDonald, Piano
Jakov Jakoulov, Piano

Preview (1999) (World Premiere) Michael Colgrass

Bernstein 'Anniversary' (1999) Jakov Jakoulov

Prologue and Scherzo
for Unaccompanied Alto-Saxophone (19990 (World Premiere) David Amram
Andante con moto
Giocoso; 12 bar blues; giocoso

Divertimento (1998) Pasquale Tassone

Peking Opera Solilquy (1994) Lie Liang


Sonatina for Soprano saxophone and Piano, "Big Crunch" (1999) John McDonald

Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano (1999) (World Premiere) Gunther Schuller
Leisurely, placidly; Allegro vivace

Piccolo Studio for Eb alto Saxophone (1999) (World Premiere) Donald Martino

"San Antonio" Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano (1994) John Harbison
Line Dance
Couple's Dance


This program is dedicated to my two most important everyday teachers,
My daughters Lauren and Julia.


Notes on the Program

Preview (1999) Michael Colgrass (b. 1932)

Michael Colgrass' Preview was written to celebrate Ken Radnofsky's 30 years of teaching. The short work, which is just 42 measures long, is nevertheless, a work of many moods, exploring the chameleon-like nature of the saxophone, and notated in the score as follows: playfully; like a murmur; agitato; wistfully; like heckling; agitato; light, playful; light-hearted. The work is both a preview for today's concert, and the Concerto for Saxophone and Wind Orchestra, which will be premiered by Ken Radnofsky in 2001 at The Boston conservatory, as a "World-Wide Concurrent Premiere."

Michael Colgrass has written several brilliant tone poems for wind ensemble. They often feature the saxophone! While this alone might have made me admire him, I particularly enjoy his personality, and thoughtful, personal look at life as a performing musician, which is realized in a 'novel' novel/self help book: "My lessons with Kumi," available in January on amazon.com and published by Real People Press. -Ken Radnofsky


Bernstein 'Anniversary' Jakov Jakoulov (b. 1958)

Jakov Jakoulov's Bernstein 'Anniversary' was written as a tribute to Leonard Bernstein, as part of a celebration of Leonard Bernstein's birth, called 'Bernstein 80,' produced by the Community Music Center of Boston, of which Messrs. Jakoulov and Radnofsky are faculty members, on April 30, 1999, at the Rabb Auditorium of the Boston public library.

This miniature is written as a constant alternation and synthesis of two different spheres of music. In the first one I quote the beginning intonation of the last movement of Mahler's 9th Symphony. It is well known that Bernstein admired Mahler, and was one of the greatest interpreters's of his music. Bernstein dedicated a special chapter to Mahler's Poetry of the Earth, in his famous Norton Lectures at Harvard in 1973. He called the Finale to Mahler's Ninth "the last farewell, which takes the form of prayer; Mahler's last chorale, his closing hymn, so to speak; and it prays for the restoration of life, of tonality, of faith." The second sphere is Bernstein himself. I quote some popular themes of his West Side Story. The piece then ends with Bernstein's 'signature,' in a collection of four notes B, E, Eb, A; a phonetic representation of the name Bernstein. -Jakov Jakoulov


Prologue and Scherzo David Amram (b. 1930)

David Amram's work was written to celebrate Kenneth Radnofsky's anniversary as a teacher. Radnofsky and Amram have known each other since 1979, when Radnofsky performed at the Cambridge River Festival as part of an ensemble conducted by Peter Cokkinias, formed especially to perform Amram's works. At that time, Amram accepted a commission to write a Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra, entitled Ode to Lord Buckley, which was premiered by Kenneth Radnofsky and the Portland Symphony, Bruce Hangen conducting, in March 1981. Since then, the Concerto has become one of the most performed works in the Saxophone Concerto repertoire.

Most of today's work was delivered by fax beginning Nov. 10, 1999. The final few measures were received during the week prior to the concert, as Amram continues his own performing, conducting and composing career in the midst of rebuilding his house, destroyed by fire less than a month ago. There is no more positive person I know in the world than David Amram. -Ken Radnofsky


Divertimento for Alto Saxophone and Piano Pasquale Tassone (b. 1949)

Historically, the Divertimento was usually written for small groups of instruments (three to ten). I have chosen this title more for its meaning (from the verb: to entertain) than for any historical considerations. It is also probably safe to assume that in writing divertimenti composers meant them to be entertaining for both the performer and the listener.

After the introduction by the saxophone solo, the piano enters in the first seven uninterrupted sections. A change in tempo as well as a change in texture distinguish each section. Each of the sections brings out the saxophone's ability to sound, especially in its lower register, at times brassy and harsh and at others, in its upper register, sweet and more flute-like. The piano, often behaves more like a partner rather than an accompaniment; sometimes helping the saxophone present its ideas and at other times charting a course of its own. Also, the piano defines the various sections with colors from its wide range; the "crystalline" section where the piano plays single lines in its extremely high register; the "barbarous" section where it utilizes accented notes and thick cords in its very low register. Divertimento is written for and dedicated to Ken Radnofsky. The work was first premiered by Radnofsky and pianist Hui-Min Wang on March8, 1998 at the Lumen Concerts of Arlington, Mass., where both composer and saxophonist are long time residents. -Pasquale Tassone


Peking Opera Soliloquy Lei Liang (b. 1972)

This piece tells the story about a woman who decided to take revenge on the local official who had killed her husband during the Cultural Revolution. She did that by wailing behind the official's house every night, until months later, both the official and herself went insane. It was my friend Mo Wu-ping who told me this story. Mo was a very talented Chinese composer and he was working on an opera based on this true story which happened in his home town. He was only able to finish the overture before he died of cancer in 1993. I wrote Peking Opera Soliloquy in memory of this dear friend and teacher. The piece was premiered by Shyen Lee on Jan. 29, 1994. Kenneth Radnofsky gave the Beijing premiere on Sept. 2, 1999. -Lei Liang


Sonatina for Soprano Saxophone and Piano John McDonald
"Big Crunch" (1999) (b. 1959)

Brutal Forces: explosive; pushing boundaries; Interlude; uncertain
Big crunch: singular; grandly unified; noctilucent and suspended

John McDonald's Sonatina is inspired from the extraordinary work of physicist Stephen W. Hawking. The Sonatina, subtitled "Big Crunch," was commissioned by Tufts University to celebrate Dr. Hawking's appearance on the Tufts campus in the Autumn of 1999. Composed in three interconnected movements, the Sonatina progresses from a volatile, explosive opening to a brief musical representation of
'the uncertainty principle;' the work then closes with an imagined 'singularity at the end of the universe' - a 'big crunch.' The work was premiered by Brian Mackintosh, saxophone and the piano on October 12, 1999 at Tufts University. John McDonald


Sonata Gunther Schuller (b. 1925)

This Sonata was commissioned by the World-Wide Concurrent Premieres and Commissioning Fund (WWCPCF), described below. There are 71 total performers (duos) performing the Schuller Saxophone sonata, with representation all over the US, France, Switzerland, Taiwan, Singapore, and Italy. The work bears a dedication to Kenneth Radnofsky. The work was completed in October 1999 and receives its world premieres beginning Dec. 5, 1999.

I have known Gunther Schuller since 1974, when I was a student at New England Conservatory. Our relationship has grown through the years; one of the highlights was our premiere performance of Mr. Schuller's Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra in 1984, and the NY premiere of the work with the National Orch. Assn. At Carnegie Hall in 1986. From Gunther I learned to look twice, even three times or more at the same note-to try to make sure I understood the meaning of each note and its relationship to all the others. -Ken Radnofsky



World-Wide Concurrent Premieres and Commissioning Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to the commissioning and performance of new works by today's finest composers, whether well known, lesser known or emerging composers. WWCPCF is unique from other organizations because it promotes multiple performance world-wide, many of which occur on a first premiere date. All performers pay a portion of the composer's commission, and all pay the same amount, to produce the work. All performers receive an autographed limited edition performance score, signed and numbered by the composer, as well as exclusivity with regard to performance of the work for a period of time subsequent to the world premiere (usually 6 months to 1 year0. The organization has produced works for saxophone and piano, saxophone and orchestra, saxophone, cello and piano, wind ensemble, horn trio (horn, violin and piano), and choir during the 8 years, including works by Chris Theofanidis, John Harbison, Larry Bell, Frank Ticheli, Michael Horvit, Gunther Schuller, and Yehundi Wyner, whose Horntrio was the runner up for last years' Pulitzer Prize. Future commissions include a Concerto for Saxophone and Wind Ensemble by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Michael Colgrass. Performances have been produced in all parts of the world, including Cyprus, Switzerland, Taiwan, England, Singapore, Italy, and all parts of the US in cities and towns, both small and large. The work of WWCPCF in promoting grass-roots world wide premieres has been recognized in a grant from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and in the feature articles in both Chamber Music Magazine and the New York Times. WWCPCF was founded by Kenneth Radnofsky, who continues to serve as Executive Director.


Piccolo Studio Donald Martino (b. 1931)

I first heard Martino's music in 1974 as a student at New England Conservatoty. Mr. Martino was a faculty member; he had just won the Pulitzer Prize for Nortturno. I immediately asked him to write a concerto, and finally worked out the details of a commission and performance by 1984, with an NEA Consortium Commissioning Grant, culminating in a performance of the Concerto at Monadnock music in 1987. I recorded the concerto for New World Records with conductor Richard Hoenich and the NEC Symphony Orchestra in 1996. My professional relationship with Don has become a friendship, which I appreciate fully, along with all of those friends/teachers whose music I perform on this concert.

Piccolo Studio was written especially for this event, completed on Nov. 22, 1999, and delivered by fax on Nov. 23, 1999. I would have received it a day earlier - but my area code had changed, and the work was received by someone in the 617 area code with my same phone number! - Ken Radnofsky


"San Antonio" Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano John Harbison (b. 1938)

"San Antonio," by John Harbison, was commissioned by World-Wide Concurrent Premieres and Commissioning Fund, Inc. In an event without known precedent, Mr. Radnofsky arranged for the commissioning musicians to share the premiere performance - 43 saxophonists around the world gave the world premiere on Dec. 3, 1995. And, over 100 performances were given in just 1 year.

About the work, the composer writes:

The Summons: The traveller has a free afternoon in San Antonio. It is August, 105 degrees. Expecting to start with a cool promenade along the river, he is instead lured by a sound. He follows it up a long stairway and finds himself in a little fiesta: a hot square, many people, no shade, a few people dancing to a fast beat, the band playing and singing in SPANISH.

Line Dance: The first dancers finish, exhausted. Then, as if on cue, the whole crowd gets into a line of people of all ages nine to ninety. They all know the steps, which change with the phrases.

Couples' Dance: The music changes again becoming slower. The people continue on in couples. No one seems to feel the heat and the band hardly stops. Everyone, the traveller included sinks into it. Towards the end a young girl asks the traveller to dance. He declines.

But a year later, when the tourist puts down the memory of the sounds, something about a saxophone, and a few rhythms in his distorted memory, he accepts.

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