'My Mountain Top' was originally written for the Apollo Saxophone Quartet (with accompanying CD) with words and narration by Lemn Sissay.
Commissioned by the ISCM World Music Days, the piece was premiered by the ASQ and Lemn at the 1998 ISCM Festival in Manchester, UK, and subsequently recorded on the ASQ CD, ‘Words & Pictures’. This arrangement for solo soprano or tenor saxophone was created for Gerard McChrystal, who premiered it at Dartington Festival (2001).
As well as changing the scoring from saxophone quartet to solo saxophone, the accompanying CD includes Lemn’s narration.
All four of the members of the Apollo Saxophone Quartet composed pieces for the ISCM commission, all loosely based around the seasons. Two pieces were composed after Lemn had written the words, whereas ‘My Mountain Top’ was one of the other two pieces that were written and then recorded for Lemn to set words to.
Inspired by Summer, 'My Mountain Top' commences with a crackle on the CD, representing lying under the gaze of the sun and feeling the heat on your skin. The rhythmically free opening saxophone statements represent a mind that is active with thoughts but which gradually floats into a semi-conscious state. At this point the warm keyboard pads emerge and the stage is set for Lemn's magical words. The solo saxophone part weaves its way around the voice, gesturing and supporting, but never overpowering.