John Plant, composer

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A deep clear breath of life

Posted by John Plant on February 28, 2013 at 12:35 AM

I've just returned, exhilarated and inspired, from the premiere of 'A deep clear breath of life,' composed in memory of my friend Peter Kovner's sister Kay, and brilliantly performed by saxophonist Dr. Jennifer Bill and pianist Yoshiko Kline.  I was deeply moved by the intensity, sensitivity, and virtuosity they brought to the piece, and by their profound intuitive comprehension of my work.   It was part of a magnificent program at Boston University,  including wonderful works by Shih-Hui Chen (also a premiere), Jun Nagao and Jennifer Higdon.  Kenneth Radnofsky, who has probably commissioned more great works for saxophone than anyone on the planet (check out his inspiring website at www.kenradnofsky.com) was in the audience and was gratifyingly enthusiastic about the work.


The audience included many Boston University students - from all disciplines, not just music. For the second time in a month I've been revitalized and rejuvenated by the powerfully positive energy generated by a community of the young. And my gratitude to Jennifer and Yoshiko is unbounded - not only for mastering its considerable technical demands but also for conveying its emotional landscape so eloquently, and for placing it in such a stimulating context.


I have posted a recording of the performance in the 'Listen' section.


I have been haunted by a memory which properly belongs in my 'Beginnings 3' blog. (N. B. for those who are newcomers to the blog, I've just inserted in in its proper place.) Several days after arriving in Canada in February 1968, I found myself in the coffeeshop run by Montreal's underground newspaper, Logos - (which I recall as visually gorgeous, psychedelic to the point of illegibility). Instead of hearing the strains of Jefferson Airplane or Jimi Hendrix or Country Joe and the Fish, the music on the speakers when I entered the warm dark candlelit cellar was from Verdi's Aida - it was the aria 'O patria mia, mai più ti rivedrò'.  The startling strangeness of hearing this music (O my country, I will never see you again) which I have loved with all my soul since i first heard it, was unbearingly poignant  - devastating and consoling at once, as I truly did not know then if I would ever see the USA again.

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3 Comments

Reply DEREK
6:07 PM on February 28, 2013 
Thank you for posting your new work , A deep Clear Breath...
Spectacularly beautiful. If the piano is the heart and the mind, the saxophoneis the GUT, the center of self from which there is no deception, giddy with exitement, filled with wings of Lepidoptera, or twisted in torment to the ravaged core. This speks from the gut, and demands it be heard thoughout the rest of the "self".
Congratulations....would have loved to hear it live!!
Reply John Plant
7:56 PM on February 28, 2013 
Your comment made me very happy indeed. Your fiery words reflect my immense good fortune in finding two amazing performers, whose profoundly intuitive understanding of my work took my breath away. Your words reflect the intensity and commitment of their wonderful performance.
Reply Helen
5:38 AM on March 7, 2013 
Wow, Johnny, well impressed. Surprised by the abrupt ending but I'm guessing that's to do with Kay's demise? I don't know anything about her, but I do love the piece (always a sucker for saxophone). I just go my colleague to listen and she too loves it.