This June, stellar saxophonist Jess Gillam premiered Sir Karl’s new saxophone concerto, Stravaganza, to great acclaim, alongside Deutschen Symphonie-Orchester under conductor Giancarlo Guerrero.
The four-movement fantasy-filled work was composed for virtuoso Jess Gillam and the premiere at the Philharmonie, Berlin’s leading classical music venue, was also recorded for radio and broadcast on Deutschlandfunk Kultur.
With a duration of 20 minutes, Stravaganza was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and the DSO Berlin and explores themes of carnival and extravagant fantasy.
Sir Karl describes how “Stravaganza is the Italian word for ‘eccentric’. The inspiration for the concerto is the fact that Jess Gillam initially learned the saxophone in a carnival, having first tried the stilts and then the drums before finding her musical home. The work is in four movements, and a certain eccentricity or quirkiness pervades throughout. In many ways it is programmatic but the listener may create her or his eccentric fantasies. To my delight, Jess chose the soprano saxophone (the highest in pitch of those in common use) for this particular ‘parade’.”
Look out for the UK premier in March 2024.