Alan Theisen (b. 4 October 1981; Port Huron, Michigan) is a Ph.D. graduate assistant in the Department of Music Theory at the Florida State University.

Composing since the age of sixteen, he has produced a steadily growing body of work distinguished by its musical energy and concentration of expression.

Representative works by Theisen include a Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, Variations on a Theme of Gretchaninov, Eclogue for flute, and the Concerto for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra (premiered by soloist Lawrence Gwozdz and the Szczecin Philharmonic in 2004). Recent compositions and commissions include Ritorno for flute and cello and a Triple Concerto. Noted composer Dimitri Terzakis commends Theisen's oeuvre as being "the product of a unique talent."

As a saxophonist, Theisen has toured the United States and Canada with the Sax-Chamber Orchestra, performing at two World Saxophone Congresses (Montreal - 2000, Minneapolis - 2003). He studied the instrument with internationally-recognized performer Lawrence Gwozdz and participated in masterclasses with famed saxophone pioneer Jean-Marie Londeix. No stranger to the podium, Theisen has been a guest conductor with several ensembles.

In an effort to showcase both his own original compositions and pieces by other contemporary composers, he founded the Intégrales New Music Festival in 2005. Now an annual event, Intégrales NMF features world-premiere performances by nationally recognized musicians. Intégrales has expanded to include musical collaborations with artists, authors, and dancers. Theisen wrote his undergraduate thesis on György Ligeti's Piano Etudes, and has authored several papers on topics including Elliott Carter, film editing, composition as analysis, and Michael Brecker.

Other interests include mathematics, film criticism, and philosophy; in addition, Theisen has performed the role of Oberon in a production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, for which he also wrote the incidental music.

Theisen lives with his wife (and puts up with their two cats) in Tallahassee, Florida.

Sunday, August 20, 2006
Saxophone Concerto

I've just posted the second and third movements of my Concerto for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra in the Sequenza21 Listening Room. The first movement is also on the list (scroll down to find it).

The concerto was written for my former saxophone professor, Lawrence Gwozdz (who was kind enough to give the premiere with the Szczecin Philharmonic in Poland). I conceived the work in three movements, expressing a familiar narrative arc: a terrible event happens (I. Larghetto), we try to deny it or ignore it by plunging ourselves into debauchery (II. Burlesque), then our memories catch up to the present moment and we are confused as to how we should move on (III. Andante misterioso - passacaglia).

Of all the movements, the third is my favorite. After a short orchestral introduction (traces of E-flat minor?), an awkward passacaglia begins. The variations grow more dense until the bass tune crumbles; after a pizzicato interlude, the theme desperately attempts to regain control, but all is lost. The saxophonist quotes the first movement, the string orchestra restates the introduction, but no path seems viable. After a reflective "cadenza", both soloist and ensemble settle on a vague C-minor conclusion (the strings play an open fifth C-G...the saxophonist determines if it should be colored with a major or minor third....minor wins out).

According to the soloist, the audience very much enjoyed the work (unfortunately, I could not attend the premiere). Gwozdz played the piece incredibly well. He is truly an artist.