The Sax Cloud

In June of 2010, under the direction of Rova's Jon Raskin and Steve Adams, Rova:Arts organized an evening of music for 16 saxophonists presented in the round’surrounding the audience. The quadruple quartet performed two set-long pieces, one each by Raskin and Adams.

The Sax Cloud is a work that is quieter than naught, and the resulting spatial relationships play an important role in defining the Cloud’s musical language. Each pair of ears in the audience has a unique location in the sonic membrane that is created around them. Conceptually, the 16 saxophonists are divided into four sax clouds, each led by one of the Rovas who is responsible for the sounds and processes from each of the quartets.

Rova has developed a wide variety of improvising strategies in their collective work, Radar. Raskin has combined the Radar approach with the graphic score language that he has been exploring for the past several years.

Gino Robair conducted from the center of the space to coordinate the creation of the performance sound clouds. Robair’s conducting process derived from the spatial concepts of aerial photographs of ancient sites (see above this article) taken by Georg Gerster. The patterns captured by the images are especially remarkable, considering the point of view of the original site builders. They lacked an awareness of the overall structure that they helped to create—analogous to each Sax Cloud player’s limited perspective as the work unfolds.

Rova + Aaron Bennett, Sheldon Brown, James Fei, Vinny Golia, Frank Gratkowski, Phillip Greenlief, John Ingle, Kasey Knudsen, Jayn Pettingill, Daniel Plonsey, Aram Shelton, and Cory Wright, Gino Robair (conductor)