Read about "ESCORTS"



Trio for flute, alto saxophone and piano (1989)


An Opera Without Words in 5 Acts D


Duration around 12'00".


1. The Quarrel

2. Rough Trade

3. The Tourist

4. The Chauvinist

5. The Reconciliation


The flute is cast in the role of Ms. Treble Clef. The alto saxophone plays multiple roles: the Composer, and a series of males by whom Ms Clef is escorted. The work makes use of polyphonic and polymetric devices to tell a gender specific romantic story of heterosexual love lost and love regained. Flute and alto saxophone engage in recurring "dialogues" in which musical phrases mimic the inflexions and rhythms of speech. A recurring device is the use of tremolo piano chords to suggest a phone ringing. A staccato piano chord depicts the phone being slammed down to terminate each conversation. Phone conversations between the Composer and Ms Clef serve as linking episodes between each act. The Composer's theme is voiced by the saxophone in fragments during these conversations, and eventually emerges as a flowing melody in the final act.

In Act One, the Composer quarrels with his girl, the flighty and unpredictable Ms Treble Clef. Fragments of themes and motivic ideas emerge and are thrown around in a maelstrom of nervous energy. Ms Clef leaves. The Composer regrets her departure and phones her. She immediately hangs up on hearing his voice.

In Act Two, Ms Clef, determined not to be lonely, throws herself into a busy social life and soon meets another man. Revving riffs suggest a bikie who likes rock'n roll. His theme is is heard to a 50s triple beat rock rhythm, firstly a blues tune voiced with diatonic confidence. The harmonic basis becomes much less secure when it tries to repeat itself, and a quarrelling dialogue is heard over the rock'n roll beat. The music disintegrates. The Composer phones and tries to have a conversation with Ms Clef. As before she hangs up immediately on hearing his voice.

Act Three finds Ms Clef in the company of a tourist from another country, an Asian, whose manners and whose persona appeal - for a while. She is impressed by his tune - a muzak of hotels and expensive restaurants.To the bewilderment of the well-meaning tourist, however, Ms Clef's unpredictable temperament causes waves, and this relationship, too, ends in confusion. The Composer again phones Ms. Clef. This time a very short exchange is allowed, before she again hangs up on him.

Act Four brings Ms Clef closer to permanence when she meets a traditional male chauvinist. His tune even works in counterpoint to the melody of Mendelssohn's Wedding March, but the accentuated flattened ninth at the beginning of the counterpoint spells doom, and, to the dismay of the intending groom, the march steps falter, stumble, and collapse in chaos, as a violent argument takes place, the notion of marriage being clearly rejected. The Composer phones again. This time she is more receptive, and we are permitted to hear a few more cadences of the composers theme, which are echoed, suggesting that a meeting will take place.

In Act Five, the Composer and Ms Treble Clef meet again, and a reconciliation very quickly leads to a romantic duet, which in turns gives way to a passionate and pulsing Coda, involving rising swing music chords and a repeating triple figure over a rhythmic pedal bass.

Derek Strahan

Available on JADCD1075 Music For A Champagne Breakfast

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