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Work of the Week – Fazıl Say: Ballad

On 18 July this week, Fazıl Say’s Ballad for alto saxophone and orchestra will receive its world premiere in Tokyo with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Say composed the work for Japanese saxophonist Nobuya Sugawa, who will perform as soloist.

Born in Ankara in 1970, Say began playing the piano aged four and began composing as a teenager at Ankara conservatoire. Today, as internationally acclaimed composer and concert pianist, his keen interest in jazz, improvisation and traditional music influences much of his work and provides elements that are frequently incorporated into his compositions.

Fazıl Say’s Ballad – full of sonic possibilities

Say composed Ballad in a style allowing the soloist the opportunity to explore the full sonic possibilities of the saxophone’s tonal range. Beginning with a long lyrical meditation evoking a search for peace, soft drum beats provide a backdrop reminiscent of the ocean.

All my compositions, as indeed my life does, take place between these two musical lineages (oriental and occidental). Turkish music has a stronger rhythmical character, German music has a great history. Both cultures interact with each other. – Fazıl Say

July has been a particularly busy month for Say with the composer himself performing as soloist for his piano concerto China Rhapsody with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra conducted by Long Yu on 15 July, and looking ahead The Hong Kong Sinfonietta Orchestra performing his piano concerto Silk Road on 23 July conducted by Yip Wing-sie. On 14 August Say will give a recital including four of his solo piano works, Bodrum, Paganini Jazz, Alla Turca Jazz and Summertime Variations at the Mosel-Musikfestival in Bernkastel-Kues.