I apologize for not writing as much out to you. I have been busy lately planning something *exciting* for the future. Hopefully we’ll be announcing it soon.
Today’s post is about a new piece, and while I usually do official program notes first, I thought I would instead share what the process has been like composing this piece.
The work is for solo saxophone commissioned by Joe Connor, a friend from Lawrence University and an incredible saxophone player. He’s currently finishing up his master’s at Northwestern University. The piece is being performed on March 8 at Gallaudet University in Indianapolis for the NASA Conference.
I can’t say enough how honored I was to be asked to write for such a talented musician. I knew this work was going to be something special, and we talked a lot about different themes and ideas for how to construct a new piece. We started by talking about playing with the saxophone instead of trying to control it, and different timbral possibilities we could play with.
I was honestly stuck for a while on what to write, but then I started listening to some rep. I found Marcos Balter’s piece, Wicker Park on Scorefollower and did some score study. In the end, I based the piece’s timbre almost entirely on Marcos Balter’s sound world, which Joe and I agree was revolutionary in that work.
But I played with it slightly differently. I decided to write a piece that starts in that hyper condensed timbre and gradually frees itself open into clarity. I wanted to portray a gradual movement from constraint to freedom.
Last Fall my Aunt was here from Dubai to have her child. She wanted her daughter to be born an American Citizen so that the family can eventually live here with us. We loved having her here, but we spent a lot of time talking about immigration, and how arduous the process is. My mom has another brother who has been waiting for his green card for 6 years so far after a lengthy and arduous application. I looked up the average wait, and we fear it could be up to 12 years.
That’s one thing about immigration I think few Americans realize. It takes a lifetime to enter this country just to be reunited with your sibling. And even then, your chances of making it through, having enough money to convince them you won’t burden the economy, and proving you’ll be a good asset to the United States means that it can be nearly impossible for someone to immigrate here.
And one other point that many Americans don’t realize is that even with that burden, the United States can still be a better choice than staying where you are. Lebanon’s a poor country, and it’s only getting worse. The economy is dreadful and there’s no minimum wage. You work all day and get paid only a few hundred dollars per month. For the majority of folks in Lebanon, the situation is unlivable.
I want my uncle to come here because I believe that he has a lot to contribute to the world that he can’t in Lebanon. He deserves a life with an honorable job, a family, and happiness. Even with the turmoil this country is plunging itself into, there’s still a freedom to exist here that many other countries do not have.
And that’s the point of this piece. The form is based on the process of legal immigration into the U.S. and it’s meant to show the emotional labor of committing to this process, along with its reward.