Second Nature

Duration: 16′
Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Wind Ensemble (Grade 6)
Commissioned by a consortium led by Texas Tech University, Dr. Sarah McKoin, Director.
Dedicated to the Aruna Quartet.

Under consortium exclusivity until February 2024.

  • 4 Flutes (Player 4 doubles piccolo), 2 Oboes, 2 Bassoons, 4 Bb Clarinets, Bass Clarinet
  • Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone (section saxophone section)
  • Solo Saxophone Quartet (SATB)
  • 4 Bb Trumpets, 4 Horns, 2 Trombones, Bass Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba
  • Piano
  • Timpani
  • 6 Percussion:
    • Marimba 1 & Bongos
    • Marimba 2 & Ride Cymbal
    • Vibraphone 1 & Bass Drum
    • Vibraphone 2, Suspended Cymbal, & Toms
    • Kick Drum, Hi-hat, & Triangle
    • 2 Snare Drums (one small, one large)

Second Nature was commissioned by a consortium led by Texas Tech University, Dr. Sarah McKoin, Director (listed alphabetically):

  • Arizona State University Wind Symphony, Jamal Duncan, Director
  • Aruna Saxophone Quartet
  • Baylor University, Eric Wilson, Director
  • Eastman School of Music, Mark Scatterday, Director
  • Florida State University, Pat Dunnigan, Director
  • Michigan State University, Kevin Sedatole, Director
  • ~Nois Saxophone Quartet
  • Oklahoma State University, Brad Genevro, Director
  • Texas Tech University, Sarah McKoin, Director
  • University of California, Los Angeles, Travis Cross, Director
  • University of Georgia, Nick Williams, Director
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City, Steve Davis, Director
  • University of Oklahoma, Shanti Simon, Director
  • University of South Carolina, Cormac Cannon, Director
  • University of Texas at Austin, Jerry Junkin, Director
Program Note

The term “second nature” typically describes a skill that, while baffling at first, becomes effortless once mastered. Naturally, Second Nature calls for a quartet of saxophonists to tackle the virtuosic demands of the piece and make their efforts look easy. But the virtuosity in their music runs deeper than speedy flurries of notes or sky-high belts. The solo quartet must also play with exacting ensemble coordination as they emulate complex electronic delay effects, which, when combined with thumping four-on-the-floor drumbeats, capture the infectious exuberance of House music. If you see the soloists sweat, I hope that it’s at least in some measure because the music inspires them to move. I personally have never danced so much while writing a piece (and fortunately you’ll just have to take my word for it). Written in three unbroken movements, this concerto often exudes pure, unbridled joy.

Indeed, when I think about my own nature as a composer, and the affective inclination of my earlier work, it was at first joy. Improvisation at the keyboard, my first childhood foray into composition, was a happy escape from the labors of piano practice. For many years composition felt like play, and my music was infused with much more whimsy than gravitas. That changed to a great degree in 2020. My compositions, both by intention and the unconscious intrusions of the wider world, became darker and introspective. I had even come to terms with the possibility that my music would remain in this darker place for a very long time. However, with the brightness of its opening and closing C-major chords, Second Nature is me finding my way back. In that way, “second nature” is less of a description of something that has become effortless, but rather something which is relearned, an inclination rediscovered—nature, for the second time around.

It is with tremendous gratitude that I thank Dr. Sarah McKoin and Texas Tech University for leading the consortium of fifteen university wind ensembles and saxophone quartets who commissioned Second Nature. This concerto is dedicated to the sensational Aruna Quartet, who premiered the piece in early 2024 alongside Dr. McKoin and the Texas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble.

Perusal Score – Performance materials can be acquired in the store beginning December 14, 2024.
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