Drew Whiting

In Lights Starkly Different


Innova 032



1.         Random Access (2015)  9:01

            John Mayrose


2.         For the Fallen (2012/2016)  7:10

            Judith Shatin


3.         Break (2016)  10:37

            Ed Martin


4.         As brightness is smeared into memory (2018)  7:33

            Jeff Herriott


5.         Ötzi (2017)  10:05

            Alexis Bacon


6.         Saudade Study (2017)  6:02  

            Nathan Edwards


7.         In Lights Starkly Different (2015-2017)  9:38

            Robin Julian Heifetz


            Total: 60:08


            Drew Whiting saxophone


The music on this album is the culmination of years of commissions, collaboration, exploration, friendship, performance, and persistence. While I had performed music for saxophone and electronics during my years as a college student, it was really once I started teaching at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2013 that this medium became an integral part of my artistic voice. My fantastic UWO colleagues, John Mayrose and Ed Martin, quickly became friends and soon collaborations emerged resulting in their respective works Random Access and Break. Performing their music and traveling to electronic music conferences introduced me to a world that was so welcoming that I immediately identified with the shared values of this amazing community of artists. It is through these experiences that I met the other wonderful composers on this album: Judith ShatinJeff Herriott, and Alexis Bacon, all of whom I deeply admire, and I absolutely love performing their work. 

The title track refers to the last work on the album by Robin Julian Heifetz. Robin has been a very special collaborator, as his work was one of the first experiences I ever had with electronic music. Words fail to express the gratitude I have for Robin's generosity and the admiration I have for his artistry. He has graciously written works that have challenged how I approach all my music making, and I have grown tremendously from performing his music. 

These pieces were recording during June and July of 2019 with the help of a faculty development grant from UW Oshkosh. My dear friend and UWO colleague, Nathan Edwards, is the recording engineer on the album and also contributed a beautiful ambient piece, Saudade Study, on the album. Nathan's patience and artistry behind the board captured this music wonderfully. We were fortunate to have most of the composers present as producers during the sessions, and those who could not be there still remained closely involved in the process. As a performer, having the composer happy with the finished product means the world to me. 

This album was also funded through a crowdsourcing campaign. I am forever indebted and grateful for those who gave so generously to make this album a reality. Thank you to Laura Blank, Nate and Sarah Whiting, Wilson Poffenberger, Nick Zoulek, Morgan DiPietro, Jerry and Jan Beatty, John Kelley, Cheryl Smith, Steven Calderwood, Dustin Keith, Laurie and Leonard Rumery, Chris Felts, Dave Friday, John Mayrose, Sara Bergman, Judith Shatin, Ed Martin, Fred Finn, Dan Kesterke, Joshua Thomas, Richard Power, Leslie Walfish, Linda Walfish, Mad About Music, Linda Pereksta, Lenore and Jim Kolhoff, Alex Sellers, James and Lauren Bobcik, Katie Decker, Romana Emrick, Alexis Bacon, Jeff Herriott, and many others for their generous contributions.

I must give special recognition to my teachers, Joseph Lulloff and Debra Richtmeyer. Both of you have changed the direction of my life and can not thank you enough. Your artistry and teaching will forever be an inspiration.

To my wonderful wife, Anne Rumery, your love means everything to me. I could not imagine my life without you and your unwavering support.

Lastly, this album is dedicated to the memories of my mother, Darlene Whiting (1953-2015), and my father, Gerry Whiting (1951-2019).

We began recording most of the pieces on the album just a couple of weeks after my father died. I can not say exactly how my grief manifested in this recording but to me it is palpable. These pieces of music took on a different meaning during this process, and helped me through a very difficult time in my life when I was faced with not having any parent in my life anymore. The recording process was cathartic, and I deeply appreciated the outpouring of support from family, friends, colleagues, and the collaborators. I share this because undoubtedly this event affected what you hear on the album. It is my parents love and sacrifice that gave me the opportunity to pursue this creative life. Even when they didn't understand the music, they never questioned my commitment toward pursuing it. They just knew I loved it, and they supported it whole-heartedly. It was their example of love and passion for what you do that made this endeavor possible. 

To my mother and father, I love you and I miss you.


JOHN MAYROSE, Random Access, for alto saxophone and electronics


The title Random Access reflects the process used with random access memory (RAM) in computer hardware, where all incoming data can be stored and small chunks of data can be retrieved regardless of the order in which it was stored. Similarly, in Random Access, all of the input from the live saxophonist is stored in the computer’s RAM. As the piece progresses, short samples of the performer are retrieved and reordered to create new contrapuntal lines. The piece begins with a simple duet between the live saxophone and the reordered material, but gradually evolves to a large orchestra of sampled saxophones. While the title may imply that the retrieval process is random, it is anything but; the input from the saxophone is precisely scripted and all electronic sounds are created live. —JM


JUDITH SHATIN, For the Fallen, for soprano saxophone and electronics


This version of For the Fallen was commissioned by Susan Fancher. The original, for trumpet and electronics, was commissioned by Ivano Ascari, to whom it is dedicated. After discussing the project with him, I decided to take my inspiration, and create the electronics, from recordings of the Capana dei Cauditi (the Bell for the Fallen) in his home town of Rovereto, Italy. The bell, later renamed Maria Dolens, was originally cast from canons melted after World War I and is one of the largest ringing bells in the world. Built between 1918 and 1925 to commemorate the fallen in all wars, it is rung daily in their memory. The bell has been recast twice, and the current one is located on Colle di Miravalle, overlooking the city of Rovereto. While the political situation changes in its particulars, the topic is still all too timely, and I composed For the Fallen while thinking of those who fell in World War I and those who have continued to fall in war since then. The saxophone part sometimes blends with the bell sounds, ringing for the fallen; at other times, it rises in mourning, even wild keening, before closing with a sense of resignation. The original bell recordings were kindly provided by engineer Marco Olivotto. Susan Fancher premiered this version at the North American Saxophone Alliance Conference in 2016. —JS


ED MARTIN, Break, for baritone saxophone and electronics


Break explores the harmonic series of the baritone saxophone’s low A. At times, the harmonic series is attacked and violently smashed into bits, while in other moments, it is meticulously pried open layer by layer. Saxophonist Drew Whiting, who commissioned the piece, recorded all of the sounds heard in the electronics. —EM


JEFF HERRIOTT, As brightness is smeared into memory, for soprano saxophone and electronics


as brightness is smeared into memory was my attempt to think about how my now 7-year-old daughter is getting older and the simultaneous sadness and joy that I experience as a parent. The piece was composed for saxophonist Drew Whiting and commissioned by a consortium of saxophonists in fall 2018. -JH


ALEXIS BACON, Ötzi, for tenor saxophone and electronics


“Ötzi” is the nickname given to a 5,000-year-old natural mummy found by hikers in melting snow in the Ötztal Alps in 1991, making him the oldest natural mummy to ever be found. Research on his body reveals a number of intriguing mysteries regarding the circumstances of his death, including the fact that he was killed in the mountains by a single long-range arrow shot that severed a crucial artery.


Ötzi lived at the intersection of the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. His body was found with a number of tools, including arrows, medicine, and a copper axe, that would have been rare during his lifetime. Yet, in spite of the fact that he was murdered, all of these valuable objects were left with his body to be hidden in ice for millennia. While composing this piece based on my imaginings of the circumstances of Ötzi’s life and death, I thought a lot about our relationship with tools. To create the electronic part, I recorded many primitive tool sounds, including stones, metal, and clay pots. I also thought of the saxophone itself as a type of tool, which I combined with metallic sounds at the beginning of the piece.


Analysis of Ötzi’s body also reveals that he frequently walked up and down the mountains, and had probably been at the base of the mountain a day or two before his death at the mountain’s peak. In the middle section of the piece, I incorporated the sound of footsteps in the snow. Expressive indications in the score make a contrast between primitive and expressive to represent Ötzi’s position in history as a man that was genetically thoroughly modern yet remains essentially unknowable. —AB


NATHAN EDWARDS, Saudade Study, for tenor saxophone and electronics


Prior to writing this piece, I experienced a series of dreams that were foggy and undefined, leaving me with a feeling that was difficult to pinpoint. The dreams prompted me to search for a word to best define this lingering emotion. In the process, I discovered the intriguing Brazilian Portuguese word saudade, which is translated as a deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent. This piece strives to capture the feeling of when specific details of a memory are elusive but the emotions linger. The melody of the saxophone and the harmony of the electronic instruments blend and blur through use of delay and reverberation in order to communicate this mood. Additionally, the saxophonist can rearrange their melodic phrases over the fixed electronic recording in order to create variability in the structure of each performance.


The listener is invited to ease into the ambient texture of the piece and is encouraged to explore their own sense of saudade. —NE


ROBIN JULIAN HEIFETZ, In Lights Starkly Different, for tenor saxophone and electronics


In Lights Starkly Different was composed between 2015 and 2017, and is the third in a series of mixed media compositions created for a saxophone and prerecorded electronic sounds. The digital sounds were realized in the composer’s home studio using REplayPLAYer software and later processed with GRM Tools. The score uses proportional and graphic notational systems and chance operations as well as theatrical elements. It is intended as a very intense, virtuosic, demanding, and hyper-dramatic work, all features rather typical of Heifetz’ approach to making music. There is genuine lyricism for the tenor saxophone of a highly personal nature while inhabiting, in a completely natural manner, the often violent events crashing in around it, creating a near-hallucinatory sonic environment. —RJH


Saxophonist Drew Whiting has established himself as a champion of new and experimental music, regularly performing works from the 20th and 21st centuries in solo, chamber, and electroacoustic settings. He presented the first-ever Performer Curated Concert at the 2017 SEAMUS Conference, and was the featured performer at Electronic Music Midwest in 2019. Drew has also performed at the Toronto International Electroacoustic Symposium, Ball State University Festival of New Music, Third Practice Festival, SPLICE Festival and Institute, North American Saxophone Alliance Conferences, and the Navy Band Saxophone Symposium. He has worked closely with composers such as Jeff Herriott, Betsy Jolas, Erik Lund, Ed Martin, John Mayrose, and Pauline Oliveros, and has premiered over thirty works by established and emerging composers.

Drew is an accomplished chamber musician, having been awarded first place at the 2012 MTNA National Chamber Music Competition as a member of the Cerulean Saxophone Quartet. He currently performs with a variety of ensembles including the Coalescent Quartet, Water City Jazz Orchestra, and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

In addition to performing, Drew is a dedicated and vibrant educator. He has presented masterclasses at Grand Valley State University, Illinois State University, Lawrence Conservatory, Ohio State University, and Oklahoma State University. Dr. Whiting serves as Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh where he teaches courses in aural skills, saxophone, chamber music, and co-directs the experimental music ensemble.

Drew received his Bachelors and Masters of Music degrees from the Michigan State University College of Music where he studied with Joseph Lulloff. He earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he studied with Debra Richtmeyer. Drew is a proud Yamaha Performing Artist and Vandoren Artist Clinician, exclusively performing on Yamaha saxophones and Vandoren woodwind products.


1.) Random Access (2015) - John Mayrose
Recording Engineer: Thom Limbert
Mix Engineer and Producer: John Mayrose
Recorded March 4th, 2017

2.) For the Fallen (2012/2016) - Judith Shatin
Recording Engineer and Mix Engineer: Nathan Edwards
Producers: Nathan Edwards, Judith Shatin, and Drew Whiting
Recorded June 14th, 2019

3.) Break (2016) - Ed Martin
Recording Engineer: Nathan Edwards
Mix Engineer: Ed Martin
Producers: Nathan Edwards, Ed Martin, and Drew Whiting
Recorded June 17th, 2019

4.) As brightness is smeared into memory (2018) - Jeff Herriott
Recording Engineer: Nathan Edwards
Mix Engineer: Jeff Herriott
Producers: Nathan Edwards, Jeff Herriott, and Drew Whiting
Recorded June 21st, 2019

5.) Ötzi (2017) - Alexis Bacon
Recording Engineer and Mix Engineer: Nathan Edwards
Producers: Nathan Edwards, Alexis Bacon, and Drew Whiting
Recorded June 24th, 2019

6.) Saudade Study (2017) - Nathan Edwards
Recording Engineer and Mix Engineer: Nathan Edwards
Producers: Nathan Edwards and Drew Whiting
Recorded June 11th, 2019

7.) In Lights Starkly Different (2015-2017) - Robin Julian Heifetz
Recording Engineer and Mix Engineer: Nathan Edwards
Producers: Nathan Edwards, Robin Julian Heifetz, and Drew Whiting
Recorded June 12th, 2019

Mastering: Nathan Edwards
Photography: Nick Zoulek
Cover Model: Helen Holman

Innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation.

Philip Blackburn, director, design

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