NASA BIENNIAL CONFERENCE 2018 - University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music 

I Never Saw Another Butterfly - Ellwood Derr

        Ellwood Derr's most famous work for the saxophone, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, is a song cycle setting poetry by child-victims of the Holocaust who were held at the Terezin concentration camp.  Terezin was a "showpiece" camp, maintained as propaganda for international organizations (such as the Red Cross).  Derr's work makes use of several extended techniques in the saxophone and voice, and intense gestures in the piano part.  The movements performed today are "Terezin," "The Butterfly," Fear," and "The Garden."  


Terezin, that bit of filth in dirty walls, and all around barbed wire, and thirty-thousand souls who sleep, who once will wake, and once will see their own blood spilled.  I was once a little child, three years ago, that child who longed for other worlds.  But now, I am no more a child, for I have learned to hate.  I am a grown-up person now, I have known fear!  But anyway... I still believe I only sleep today, that I'll wake up, a child again, and start to laugh and play.  Somewhere, far-away out there, childhood sweetly sleeps, along the path among the trees.  There, o'er that house which was once my pride and joy.  There my mother gave me birth, into this world, so I could weep, weep, weep, weep, weep, weep.  

The Butterfly:

A butterfly, the last, the very last, so richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.  As if the sun's tears would sing against white stone.  Such, such a yellow is carried lightly, 'way up high.  It went away, I'm sure, for it wished to kiss the world goodbye.  For seven years I've lived in here, penned up inside this ghetto.  But I have found my people here.  The dandelions have befriended me, and the white chestnut candies in the court... only I never saw another butterfly.  That butterfly was the last one.  Butterflies don't live in here.  In the ghetto.  


Today the ghetto knows a different fear, close in its grip... Death wields an icy scythe.  An evil sickness spreads a terror, in its wake the victims its shadow weep, weep, weep, and writhe.  Today, a father's heartbeat tells his fright, and mothers bend their heads in their hands.  Now children choke and die with typhus here... OH NO!!!  OH GOD!!  We want to live!  Not watch our numbers melt away.  We want to have a better world.  We want to work.  We must not die!!

The Garden:

A little garden, fragrant and full of roses.  The path is narrow, and a little boy walks along it.  A little boy, a sweet boy, like that growing blossom.  But when that blossom comes to bloom.. the little boy will be no more.  

Voicebox Girl - Martha Sullivan (World Premiere)

Martha Sullivan's Voicebox Girl was written for us between 2017 and 2018.  From the composer:

"This is a song cycle with interludes, exploring various sounds that evoke the female voice at various ages, offering new possibilities for vocalization, and encouraging women and girls of all ages to claim their own unique voice. The piano offers support, counterpoint, and textural contrasts to voice and saxophone; the saxophone interweaves its own sound with the singer's, sometimes imitating her, sometimes querying her, sometimes offering a contrasting idea, but always listening closely, creating a space for the female voice to be heard.  This piece is dedicated to David, Melissa, and Victoria Wozniak."

Double Vocalise:



Emily Dickinson Sleep is Supposed to Be

Sleep is supposed to be, by souls of sanity, the shutting of the eye.  Sleep is the station grand, downwhich, on either hand, the hosts of witness stand.  Morn is supposed to be, by people of degree, the breaking of the day.  Morning has not occurred!  That shall Aurora be, east of eternity.  One with the banner gay, one in the red array, that is the break of day.  

We Never Know: (Emily Dickinson)

We never know how high we are, till we are called to rise; and then, if we are true to plan, our statures touch the skies.  The heroism we recite, would be a daily thing, did not ourselves the Cubits warp, for fear to be a king!