About three years ago, saxophonist Arno Bornkamp was listening to Zoltán Kodály’s Sonata in B minor for solo cello, Op. 8, a piece that boasts a unique musical concept, exploring the possibilities of the cello to the fullest extent. At that moment he realized that the saxophone family includes a member with similar characteristics to the cello in terms of musical possibilities: the baritone saxophone, which however did not have much repertoire to demonstrate it.
So, taking the initiative to change that, Arno commissioned eight composers close to him to write pieces for the baritone, with the aim of opening up a conceivably new perspective for the instrument.
The first of these eight composers was Gregory Wanamaker, whom he met at the 2018 International Saxophone Conference in Gainesville, organized by Jonathan Helton of the University of Florida. He was followed by four other classical-style composers — Peter Vigh, JacobTV, Ryo Noda, and André Arends. And, on the other hand, he chose Jan Menu, Katharina Thomsen, and Brandford Marsalis as jazz composers.
Additionally, Arno asked André Arends — his colleague in the extinct Aurelia Saxophone Quartet (1982-2017) — to create a setting around this musical motif, thus emerging the Little Big Horn project (a title that pays homage to legendary jazz baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan’s 1984 album). The central theme is the “emancipation” of the baritone; a secondary objective being to investigate the position of today’s musician in general, and of Arno Bornkamp in particular, with respect to this instrument and its repertoire.
The result of all this is a multimedia concert featuring new and original works for baritone by renowned composers, from classical to funk and jazz.
The premiere of Little Big Horn took place on December 13, 2020, right in between the two Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. Upcoming dates can be found on its official website: https://www.saxfestival.nl/