Soprano Sax, Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Baritone Sax
Phaethon was composed in the spring of 2015 for the Morpheme Saxophone Quartet and is comprised of 4 movements lasting approximately 28 minutes in duration. Phaethon, a character in Greek Mythology, was challenged by his playmates and sought assurance from his father that he, the father, was the god of the sun. He asked his father for some proof that would demonstrate his relationship with the sun. When the god promised to grant him whatever he wanted, he insisted on being allowed to drive the sun chariot for a day. Placed in charge of the chariot, he was unable to control the horses. The earth was in danger of being burnt up and, to prevent this disaster, Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt. The name “Phaethon”, means “Shining One”, and in modern times, is the name given to an asteroid whose orbit brings it very close to the sun. This asteroid produces an annual meteor shower in early-mid December. After viewing the beautiful meteor shower in December of 2014 together, the composer became very inspired by the familial love the quartet has for one another.
The name, “Shining One”, is represented in the piece by each movement featuring a different voice of the quartet in score order from soprano to baritone; most directly, this happens through the means of a cadenza at the beginning of each movement for the featured voice. The hymn Come Thou Fount serves as secondary thematic material for the composition; this hymn holds great significance for Morpheme Saxophone Quartet. Extended technique in the piece includes SAT altissimo, SAB circular breathing (preferred, but not essential), and B pitched/closed mouth slap tongue.