Recorded November 14, 2013 by the LUX Quartet, Lawrence University.
Orchestration: saxophone quartet.
Duration: approx. 12 minutes
My saxophone quartet, Kex (an archaic English word for the dried stems or husks of plants), was inspired by my experiences participating in Sacred Harp singing—a kind of shape‐note hymn singing from Appalachia. Throughout the work I make liberal use of the hymn “Idumea,” famous for its beautiful melody and apocalyptic text. Although I am not a religious person, I find this text deeply moving:
And am I born to die? / To lay this body down! / And must my trembling spirit fly / Into a world unknown?
During the composition of Kex, I was also inspired by the vast landscapes of the Midwestern United States, an inspiration that finds its expression in some of the long atmospheric passages in the work.