Stephen Syverud

Nova Cass

(saxophone quartet, double bass)

Audio sample - M I, Alioth (.mp3)

Audio sample - M II, Mizar

Audio sample - M III, Zeda Polaris

C Score-1st M, pg 1&2 (.pdf-Click to acquire Adobe Acrobat Reader)

C Score-2nd M, pg 1&2

C Score-3rd M, pg 1&2

Program Notes:

Nova Cass is dedicated to the memory of Thelonious Monk and written for the Vienna Saxophone Quartet on the occasion of the centennial celebration of the School of Music at Northwestern University. 'Round Midnight by Thelonious Monk served as the main musical material in the composition of Nova Cass. The primary intervals in the tone row are also the primary intervals found both vertically and horizontally in Monk's composition. The row was devised in such a manner that actual harmonies from 'Round Midnight were used. In Nova Cass, abstract presentation of the material occurs at the outset which finally result in the clearest statements near the end of the piece. This process occurs over the time span of the entire composition even though each movement deals quite independently with different aspects of the main musical materials. Astronomical considerations including the relationships between stars and constellations (intensity, distances, speed, number, time) were used in the development of the row and durational, dynamic, timbral, orchestral aspects. The title of the composition and the three movements refer to various constellations of stars. The first and second movements Alioth and Mizar are names of stars of the first and second magnitude respectively in Ursa Major (Great Bear), the most conspicuous of the northern constellations. This constellation contains stars (pointers) which point toward the present North Star (found in the Ursa Minor constellation) called the polestar or Polaris. Zeda is an alternate spelling of 'Zeta' indicating the last, in this case, the last movement. A Nova is a star which increases greatly in its light and energy. Cass is a shortened version of the constellation Casseopeia (the mother) found between (north/south) of constellations Cepheus (the father) and Andromeda (the son). These three are also northern constellations. The use of star constellations as an integral part of finding musical materials and titles (movements and the entire composition) relate directly to the composer's regard for Thelonious Monk, his music, and the members of the Vienna Saxophone Quartet.

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