I was aged 13 when the London Symphony Orchestra ran a music education day and invited compositions from students to be submitted as possible programme items. I was extremely privileged to be selected, and the excitement of that occasion sparked my interest is composition. I went on to write for those groups that I had access to (mainly those within my local music service), particularly big band and concert band, and subsequently developed my skills through study in Bristol and London. I now combine composition with orchestrating for film, lecturing, conducting, teaching, and the numerous other pursuits of a freelance musician!
My work as a composer for saxes was initiated by a commission to write Urban Fusion for a quartet that had played some of my music for concert band. However, my writing for the instrument really took off following a competition run by the National Sax Choir of Great Britain (NSC), when the I remember that the attraction of writing for multiple baritone saxes was just too great to resist! I was delighted to win that competition with Introduction & Riffs and have maintained a relationship with the group since then, becoming their Composer-in-Residence in 2008, a position that has resulted in several more works for sax ensemble.
Around this time a separate request prompted Simon's Mangrove Groove to be written, an upbeat work that, as the title suggests, has a funky rhythmic base but also contrasts this with a central lyrical waltz. This work has proved very popular, receiving performances globally and being well 'hit' in a YouTube performance.
The comical Sax Circus was written to showcase the entire sax family from soprillo right down to contrabass (although a version for double quartet is also available). It was first performed at the 2009 World Sax Congress in Bangkok before establishing itself as a firm favourite in the repertoire and becoming the title track of an NSC CD recording. Quattuor Anguli Terrae (translated as 4 Corners of the Earth) was my most recent composition for the NSC; an atmospheric composition using 4 distinct and separate instrumental groups located in the 4 corners of the performance space.
Expanding the forces to include clarinet choir and percussion ensemble alongside sax choir, I wrote Synthesis initially for a performance at the Royal Albert Hall, and I recently completed another piece for the same forces, Audio Illusion. Other recent works include a setting of the gorgeous text of Shakespeare's sonnet 116 for choir with solo alto sax, and a composition for brass band.
It's been a real joy to have had so many recent opportunities to compose for sax, and explore the beautiful expressive nature, virtuosity and jazz-funk styles. I hope this will continue for some time!
Visit the composer's site: www.rogermay.co.uk.