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Fallibility, Logic, and the Return of Wonder

    SOLO ALTO SAXOPHONE, 2*2*2*2  4*3*3*1 Timpani (5 drums), 2 Perc, Harp, Strings, [Percussion Requirements: finger cymbal, bass drum, 2 suspended cymbals (low + high), 2 suspended cymbals (medium +low), vibraphone, crash cymbal, tam-tam, 2 tom-toms (medium

    Duration: ca. 15 minutes
    Composed: 2002

    Programme Note: Fallibility, Logic, and the Return of Wonder

    1. Doubt
    2. Question
    3. Believe

    While working on this piece I realized that the process of creating, of moving on a path to making discoveries, was actually defined in the writings of philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce.  In his theory on pragmatism, Peirce defined belief as something on which we can act confidently, not just a state of mind; doubt as an unsatisfactory state from which we struggle to free ourselves; and inquiry as the means to eliminate the irritation of doubt.  Doubt forces inquiry which eventually produces belief, in an endless loop.  These three steps are necessary for creating a piece of music.   

    The concerto falls into a three-movement form, somewhat unconventional in its construction.  Each movement loosely illustrates the three essential elements of the creative process.  The first movement is a significant cadenza for the saxophone with solo percussion.  It begins slowly but steadily builds as the doubts are gradually overcome.  The second movement is a fast scherzo and is truly an ensemble piece.  The underlying concept is that the act of questioning is exhilarating.  The third movement is slow and settled, with long lyrical gestures, but it opens a door back to the impetus of doubt.  

    Fallibility, Logic, and the Return of Wonder is a concerto for alto saxophone written for and dedicated to Jeremy Brown.  It was commissioned by the CBC for Dr. Brown and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

    Premiere: First performance Calgary by Jeremy Brown and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, November 9, 2002.

    Kelly-Marie Murphy, composer