Senior Recital

By: Michael DeMaio.

Senior Capstone Experience in Music


First and foremost, thank you to the professors in the music department—Dr. Schweitzer, Dr. Leupold, Dr. McCollum, Dr. Thomas, Dr. Wharton, Dr. Brower, Dr. Park, and Professor Winter—for believing in me and pushing me beyond what I thought was my fullest potential. A big thank you to Dr. Crossen-Richardson, Professor McCarthy, and Vince Norman for their mentorship in my beginning stages of Washington College. Special thanks to Dr. Thomas and Dr. Schweitzer for overseeing my thesis project.

The show could not be as special without an audience. Thank you to everyone who attended my recital, and to everyone who has supported the Washington College Music Department and the Musician’s Union over the years.  Shout out to Shane, Shreyas, and Brandon and the rest of my WAC family for their tireless support in my musical endeavors. Thank you, also, to my business teachers for believing in me and pushing me to do well in both majors.

To my family back home. Thank you Mom and Dad for paying for the many (many) music lessons you allowed me to take and also for encouraging me to continue playing. To my first saxophone teacher. Mr. Ray, you pushed me to be a great saxophonist and provided me with a very strong basis musically. Thank you for going to auditions with me as well and your continued mentorship throughout my college career. To Mr. Bill MacDonald and Matthew MacDonald. Playing in your group for the past six years has taught me a great deal. I value our friendship and the music that we make together. Thank you for your endless support.

Last and most certainly not least, thank you to my friends and mentors who helped put this show together. Aggie, you are a truly talented musician and I can’t wait to see what the world is going to throw at you next. Your friendship is very valuable to me and I am glad we have stayed close beyond our high school years. No matter where you are in your music endeavors, you always know I will be just a phone call away ready to help where it’s needed. Joe, the past two years for me musically would not have been as exciting and adventurous without you. You have taught me so much in the music world and you inspire me to continue to just be me. I would not have the amount of musical experience I have if it wasn’t for you and I could not be more grateful. You are a huge reason why I am considering music therapy for my graduate school studies. Finally, Dr. Brower. You have performed many WAC showcases and recitals with me—even when I give you the music just days before the performance (sorry about that)—and I couldn’t be more appreciative. You also are always willing to help out with the Musician’s Union—especially the early stages when we were trying to get it off the ground—and I am forever grateful.

Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, Op. 19

Paul Creston (1906-1985), born in New York City as Giuseppe Guttoveggio, is one of America’s leading composers, with a variety of works including music for piano, chamber groups, voice, orchestra, and concert band. Creston was born into a poor immigrant family and did not have any early training in theory or composition. As a child, Creston took piano and organ lessons, but it was not until 1932 when he decided on a career in composition. Despite his lack of background, he spent many years teaching at various universities including Central Washington State College, Ellensburg.[1]

Creston’s compositions were among the most performed pieces of the 1930s through the 1950s.

Creston chose to write for a number of “solo” instruments, including marimba, trombone and accordion, and wrote three works for saxophone: Sonata,Rapsodie, and Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra. He had a number of fairly early successes, which allowed him to soar to the top quickly in his career. In 1938, Creston was the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship—a fellowship designed to further the development of the artist; assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts.[2]His other early notable success was in 1941 when he received the New York Music Critics’ Circle Award for his Symphony no.1.[3]

Creston wrote Sonatafor Alto Saxophone and Piano, Op. 19in 1939, just seven years after becoming a serious musician. This piece consist of three movements: I – With vigor, II – With tranquility, and III – With gaiety. The first movement opens profoundly and maintains its intensity for most of the movement. There are a few sections that has legato phrases and the music is very beautiful. The second movement is written with a 5/4 time signature, and the music has a free feeling to it. The last movement follows a seven part rondo form—meaning that the main theme repeats after each new idea. You will hear the main idea played four times. To me, it sounds like this entire movement is from a Super Mario game.

This piece is important in saxophone history and is a cornerstone for the instrument’s future success. The saxophone was invented around 1840 by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian instrument maker. Immediately, the saxophone was adopted by military bands.[4]Eighteen years after Sax invented the saxophone he taught the first saxophone class at the Paris conservatoire.[5]The class lasted until 1871, and during this approximate 30 year time frame, the saxophone started positioning itself as an orchestral instrument. However, universal acceptance stalled for many years as a result of Sax leaving the conservatory.[6]The class was reinstated in 1942 under the direction of Marcel Mule—one of the individuals who made Creston’s work known.

It was not until the late 1920s when some of the best and most prominent classical saxophonists—Marcel Mule, Sigurd Rascher, Cecil Lesson—emerged, that the saxophone began to take its place in the classical world. Cecil Lesson worked very close with Creston, and gave the first performance of this piece with pianist Josef at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio, on January 9, 1940, as part of a tour. While it was performed many times by this duo, Creston said the world premiere was in February 1940 when he performed the piece with Cecil Lesson on saxophone.[7]This was their last public performance together.


Tableaux De Province

Paul Maurice, 1910-1967, was a female French composer born in Paris. Not much is known about Maurice’s life outside of her 50 compositions and the fact that she taught for 25 years as a professor at two very important music schools—the Paris Conservatory, and the National School of Music of Paris. Maurice is omitted in nearly every book or encyclopedia of composers, and as a result her career success if poorly noted. Maurice studied at the Paris Conservatory and taught composition lessons many students, including Marcel Mule’s son, Pol.[8]

Tableaux De Provinceconsists of five movements and is Mule’s most famous work. She wrote the fifth movement in 1948 for Pol, and the remaining movements between 1952 and 1955. Even though she wrote the last movement for Pol, Maurice dedicated this piece to her colleague Marcel Mule, and he was the first to record the Tableaux.[9]The first movement, “Farandole des jeunes filles” (Dance of the Young Girls), is very light and quick, and consists of a lot of scalar patterns and short articulations. To me, this movement sounds like water running down a slanted stream—the music is very light and at some points sounds like trickling water.

The second movement, “Chanson pour ma mie” (Song for My Lover) is very slow and dream like. The saxophone melody follows an A-B-A format and requires a great amount of focus on the pitch, especially at the end. To conclude this movement, the note is held until it practically evaporates into the air and you cannot hear it anymore.Tableaux’s third movement, “La Bohémienne” (The Gypsy Girl), is contrasting to all of the other movements. Unlike movements I and II, it feels like the piece is almost in a 1/4 time signature—very punctual and direct. Similar to the second movement, this movement is very short. This section also sounds, to me, almost like an advanced Mario world.

Movement IV, “Des Alyscamps l’ame Soupire,” which translates as From the Graveyard Les Alyscamps, a Soul Sighs, describes a particular Roman burial site in Provence that has been shown in works by both Van Gogh and Gauguin.[10]The movement is dark and suspenseful and is the longest of the five movements. When listening, try and imagine walking through the graveyard at night. When the music accelerates just a little bit picture taking faster steps through the grave site.  The fifth and final movement, “La Cabridan,” is named after a large insect—that looks similar to a cicada–native to Provence, France. The piece moves at about 135 BPM and is filled with sixteenth-note runs. When listening to this piece I imagine, in the beginning, a bug flying around. When I arrive at the development section of the piece, it is almost as if an insect is roaming around on a flower, it gets back up, flies around some more, before falling asleep for a little bit. The bug, then gets startled by something, then starts flying again until the movement ends.

Out of all the classical pieces I have played in college, this one piece remains my favorite. It is a ton of fun to play and perform this, and the story the piece tells is overwhelmed with emotion. I hope you have as much fun listening to it and interpreting it as I do playing it!

Amazing Grace

At a very young age, John Newton (1725-1807), a London native, began his career in the British Navy. Around the age of seven, Newton lost his mother—which resulted in Newton’s beginning stages of being a seaman. Newton’s father worked as the captain of the Navy vessel he was stationed, and quite often John Newton got into a great deal of trouble. Later in Newton’s life, he worked as a slave trader on board a ship called the Pegasus. During one of his trips home, the ship he was on was caught in a storm off the coast of Ireland and they almost died. Newton said a prayer, and the ship drifted to safety.[11]

Newton became a spiritual person after this event—however he continued serving in the slave trade until he was forced to retire after suffering a stroke in 1754.[12]He remained a very spiritual person and in 1764, he was ordained as an Anglican priest. During his time in the priesthood, he wrote about 280 hymns to complement his services, one of which was Amazing Grace in 1772.[13]He published these hymns in a book he called Olney Hymnsin 1779. For over two centuries, up until the late 18thcentury, American congregations sang hymns only from Europe, Amazing Grace included, before they developed their own hymnals and psalms.[14]This Christian hymn was one of the first ever created in the American repertoire. Amazing Grace has connected individuals for generations and continues to be performed by a variety of artists.

This song has great meaning for me. I have lost four grand/great-grandparents during my college career. I have performed many different arrangements of the tune at funerals, and music therapy sessions. This was also one of the first tunes I performed with my first church group back home that I have played with for the past six years. Groups and solo artist who work on this piece often sing in a folk style. Whenever I play this tune, I play it differently. Usually, I play it with more of a bluesy 6/8 swing feel to keep the mood more upbeat. Tonight, I intend to do just that.


Eagle’s Wings

Composer Fr. Michael Joncas, 65, is a jack of all trades in the church—he serves as a priest, a composer of contemporary music, and a theologian. Born and raised in Minneapolis, MN, he has written just over twenty choral liturgical hymns. In 1976, four years before being ordained as a priest, Fr. Joncas wrote Eagle’s Wings as a response to the loss of his friend’s mother.[15]This hymn is a standard in the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and non-denominational hymnals throughout the nation and has been recorded by a number of solo artists and groups including Josh Groban, Michael Crawford, and Hillsong. Joe and I will perform this as a duo, stating the first verse, then the chorus, then the second verse. From there, Joe will play the melody, and I will improvise over top of the changes finishing out with the chorus one last time.

I put this song in my program for my grandmother who passed away in 2016. My grandmother loved this hymn and the last time I saw her, I played this song on my saxophone while she sang. Even though she could not remember my name, we were still able to bond, and have a deeper connection than the situation presented because of music. This song, for me, represents the power of music—connecting people even when words fail.



Miles Davis (1926-1991) a well-respected trumpet player from Alton, Illinois, and one of the biggest and most influential musicians of his time, had a plethora of accomplishments. He was an innovative performer and is often given credit for inventing three different styles of jazz. He invented cool jazz at the end of the 1940s with his album “Birth of the Cool”. This style of music consists of a light level of dynamics, for example drummers favored brushes rather than sticks, and many avoided the use of vibrato.[16]Davis invented modal jazz in the late 50s. This style consisted of the use of modal scales throughout the works. Davis’s most famous album that fully incorporates this style is his most famous album “Kind of Blue(1959)”, which is also the best-selling jazz album of all time. Davis also invented fusion jazz which set out to amalgamate the sounds of acoustic and electronic instruments with the melodic jazz improvisation style and open-ended rock accompaniment. This style of play can best be seen on his 1983-84 album “Decoy”.[17]

One of his early accomplishments was in 1943—Davis was just seventeen years of age—when he first performed onstage in a venue in New York for the first time with Dizzie Gillespie and Charlie Parker.  In 1944,left his hometown to pursue a music degree from the Institute of Musical Art—what is now known as Julliard School of Music. Davis joined Parker in many live shows and recording sessions (1945–1948), while also playing in other groups and touring in Benny Carter’s and Billy Eckstine’s big bands.[18]

Davis is also known for bringing together, and working collaboratively with very talented musicians. After a successful show at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955, which brought him many engagements and widespread publicity, he formed his famous quintet which consisted of musicians Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (double bass), Philly Joe Jones (drums) and John Coltrane, who in 1956 was later replaced by Sonny Rollins.[19]He also performed with Cannonball Adderley during these years.

Miles Davis is often surrounded by controversy. Chuck Wayne (1923-1997) was a very gifted guitarist and was a member of the Woody Herman Band, and later in his life became a musician for CBS television. In 1946, Chuck Wayne recorded an unpublished record with his friend Sonny Berman on trumpet which contained two tunes—“How High the Moon,” and a tune Wayne later called “Sonny.” Since Wayne never published the record, it is probable that he never thought about registering “Sonny” under the existing copyright laws. On August 8, 1963 Miles registered this song through the Prestige Music Co., Inc. naming the tune Solar and listing himself as the composer.[20]Solar is off of Davis’s 1954 album Walkin’. This tune falls right into his cool jazz style of play during the time. I am not performing this selection quite like Davis did—his recording has very light dynamics and a heavy walking bass. My performance of this will be heavier and will feature a piano, drum set, and saxophone.

t is a tall order to be playing a Miles tune on my thesis. I put this song on my recital because one of my first transcriptions I had to do for private lessons at Washington College was Vincent Herring’s arrangement of this tune. Transcribing his solo is when I learned that listening and borrowing ideas was just as important as being able to play and apply your own ideas. While I will not be playing my transcription of Herring’s solo, I do borrow many ideas from his version.


When I Fall in Love

American composer Victor Young (1900-1956) began his musical studies at the age of six when he started playing violin. By the age of ten, Victor moved to Warsaw, Poland to live with his grandfather and study at the Warsaw Conservatory.[21]At the age of seventeen, Young made his successful debut with the Warsaw Philharmonics.[22]He toured around Europe with various concert orchestras until 1920, but as the tensions in Europe continued to rise (even though World War I had ended), Young moved back to the United States. He made his debut in Chicago the following year before making a big switch in his musical studies from orchestral works to film music. Young was a prominent musical figure from the 1930s through the mid-1950s—writing scores for over 225 films.[23]

Recorded in August 1952 by Doris Day for the romantic war movie set during the Korean War One Minute to Zero, Victor Young composed this tune with the help of lyricist Edward Heyman. When I Fall in Love is a classic that has been recorded by a number of well-known artists around the globe including Nat King Cole, and Celine Dion. This piece is a slow ballad in common time. This has become one of my favorite ballads since I began my college career.


Things Ain’t What They Used to Be

Mercer Ellington (1919-1996), son of the famous Duke Ellington, was an American trumpeter, composer, and a band leader. In the 1920s, Mercer’s family moved to New York, and studied saxophone, trumpet, and arranging at the Institute of Musical Art (Julliard).[24]After college, Mercer led his own group in the thirties, which Dizzie Gillespie was briefly a member, and at the beginning of the 40s he wrote music for his father’s group.[25]

Things Ain’t What They Used to Be, 1942, is a twelve-bar blues standard in the jazz repertoire. Many believe it was Duke who wrote the tune, because he arranged this chart for a big band. However, it was Mercer who wrote the tune in response to events that occurred, which resulted in a musicians’ strike from 1942-1944—the longest Hollywood strike ever recorded.

The American Society for Composers, Artists, and Publishers (ASCAP)—the first and still today one of the largest American performing rights societies—was founded in 1914 for the collection of royalties for the performance and broadcast of music. Musicians such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Judy Garland, and Glen Miller were all members of this society. The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) started a strike against the major American recording companies because of disagreements over royalty payments.[26]Effective in August 1, 1942, no union musicians were allowed to participate in any recording sessions. This, however, did not impact the musicians’ participation on radio programs or live concerts. Since Duke was a member of the ASCAP, he turned to Mercer to help air his compositions on radio—however this song was not one of them.[27]Mercer’s other charts that brought him success during this time were “Blue Serge” and “Moon Mist.”

This tune has been covered my many individuals and groups including Benny Carter and his band, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, and John Coltrane. The Benny Carter cover of this tune is definitely my favorite followed very closely by the Woody Herman cover. After the twelve–bar blues is stated twice, there will be a series of solos taken by all the musicians on stage. Listen for a battle between the drums and piano when they trade four measures for a few verses. If you feel tempted, please feel free to get up and dance in the aisle!


Works Cited

[1]Walter G. Simmons. “Creston, Paul.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed October 8, 2017,




[5]Philip Bate and Wally Horwood. “Sax.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed October 9, 2017,

[6]Gavin M. Murphy, “Dedications: Scholarly Program Notes For Selected Saxophone Works” (2013). Research Papers. Paper 386.

[7]Cecil Leeson, “Remembering Paul Creston,” Saxophone Journal vol. 11, no. 2 (Summer 1986); p. 34.2 New Grove, p. 33

[8]Murphy, “Dedications: Scholarly Program Notes For Selected Saxophone Works”



[11]Sheward, David. “The Real Story Behind ‘Amazing Grace’.” March 17, 2016. Accessed October 7, 2017.



[14]Warren Anderson, et al. “Hymn.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed September 10, 2017,

[15]Unknown. “Hymn story, On Eagle’s Wings.” Sermon Writer. Accessed October 11, 2017.

[16]Barry Kernfeld. “Cool jazz.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed October 12, 2017,

[17]Barry Kernfeld. “Davis, Miles.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed October 8, 2017,



[20]Larry Appelbaum. “Chuck Wayne, Sonny & Solar.” Library of Congress, accessed October 1, 2017,

[21]Clifford McCarty. “Young, Victor.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed October 9, 2017,



[24]Eddie Lambert and Barry Kernfeld. “Ellington, Mercer.” The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd ed.. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed October 8, 2017,


[26]Karen Sherry. “American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed October 12, 2017,

[27]Maund, Ian. “Tracks Unwrapped: Things Ain’t What They Used To Be.” Things Ain’t What They Used To Be. Accessed October 11, 2017.

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