Sierra: A Continuous Joy

Sierra Saxes j_carter_3_2013_photo_norman_timonera

James Carter; Photo: Norman Timonera, courtesy: American International Artists

“For me, it’s a continuous joy to perform [Roberto Sierra’s] Concerto for Saxophones…”

On the eve of his German tour, James Carter — world-renowned saxophonist — shares some insight into performing Sierra’s work. Written for Carter, Concerto for Saxophones was commissioned by the Detroit Symphony and premiered in 2002 under the baton of then-music director Neeme Järvi. The 23-minute piece blends classical and jazz elements, and highlights Carter’s virtuosity on both the soprano and tenor saxophones. Carter joins conductor Kristjan Järvi foSierra Con 4 Saxophones Score 2r performances on January 16 in Leipzig with the MDR Sinfonieorchester, and on January 20 in Berlin at the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester.

Carter continues. “Since its premiere in 2002, the Concerto for Saxophones has basically been like a new child to both Roberto and me. My perception has grown exponentially through performing [it] several times. At first, it was about mathematics and staying as true to the page as possible. However, over time, the piece has become a sonic organism that continues to morph and change shape especially in tandem with other works on [an] evening’s program — which somehow find their way into the concerto itself via my improvisational passages. The employment of the tenor and soprano saxophones have gone beyond their respective ranges and have become male and female entities within the piece…I hear different things in the piece with different orchestras —Sierra Con Sax JCarter CD cover an oboe part will become more present with one orchestra than with another, so I hear different ‘internal conversations’ each time I perform the work…playing the Concerto for Saxophones and working with Roberto continue to be a perpetual joy and I can’t wait for our next musical collaboration.”

Carter recorded Concerto for Saxophones (paired with Sierra’s critically acclaimed Caribbean Rhapsody) with Giancarlo Guerrero leading the Sinfonia Varsovia, on a disc released on Universal Music Group’s EMARCY label.