I’m pleased to share some audio from my Delta State University faculty recital a few weeks ago.The big event of the evening was the premiere of Sy Brandon’s Divertissement for multiple woodwinds and piano, which seemed to be well received. It’s gratifying to be involved in the creation of a piece that fills a gap in the small multiple woodwinds repertoire—something than can be played by a woodwind doubler, without having to bring in a concert band, a truckload of electronics, or obscure instruments. The audience seemed to enjoy the derring-do of the final movement, which involves six instruments.
I’ve studied the Bonneau Caprice en forme de valse in the past and have had students perform it, but this was the first time I played it in public myself. Since I’m trying to balance a half-dozen or more instruments, I tend to shy away from pieces that seem too technical, and, in that respect, this was the riskiest piece on the program. I was mostly pleased with how it turned out.
Bonneau: Caprice en forme de valse (alto saxophone)
The piece is now available for purchase from the Co-op press website. It’s priced at an extraordinarily reasonable $6.95 for a PDF download (at the time of this writing), and U.S. customers can opt for a print copy for a still-affordable $16.95. The individual movements, any of which would make a charming short piece for a recital, are also available at just under two bucks apiece (PDF).
Among the few pieces in existence for multiple woodwinds soloist, this one has, in my opinion, the fewest logistical barriers to performance: it doesn’t require a large or unusual ensemble (just soloist and pianist), and it doesn’t require any unusual instruments, electronics, or other gear. There is also some flexibility in which instruments are used—movements may be selected from:
Nocturne (alto saxophone)
Galop (piccolo/flute/oboe/clarinet/bassoon/alto saxophone, OR just piccolo)
One of the awesome things that has happened since I started my list of reed books in musicals is that great people from all over the world have contacted me to contribute to the list. These contacts are always a pleasure for me personally, and they serve to make the list more accurate, complete, and useful for others.
I have a number of regular contributors who contact me periodically with updates, and until recently the record was nearly twenty individual contributions from one much-appreciated person.
That record was shattered when, a few months ago, I started getting emails from Gene Scholtens. The first email was a small correction for one show, but then the floodgates opened. Gene revealed that he has been playing woodwinds in Broadway orchestras for over thirty years, and has been keeping his own very comprehensive log of who plays which doubles on which shows. Gene’s contributions to my list at the time of this writing number a staggering 72.
As it turns out, Gene is not only a talented musician and a prolific record keeper, but also a very nice, humble, and generous guy, and graciously agreed to talk to me on the phone about his career. Here’s what he had to say. [Note: edited for length.]
BP: How many shows have you played?
GS: I’ve been playing on Broadway since roughly 1980. The last count was somewhere in the neighborhood of 90-95 shows.
I’m pleased to announce some updates and improvements to the Fingering diagram builder. Thanks to all who have used it, and especially to all who have reported bugs, made suggestions, Tweeted or blogged about it, or offered compliments. And a very special thanks indeed to those who have used the “Send me reed money” link to support the FDB financially.