July 25: Axl Pons, oboe

Performing: Inner Voices by Mark Kilstofte

Paired with Artwork:

Musician statement:

About the music: Inner Voices was written for Petrea Warneck (principal oboist of the South Carolina Philharmonic, and one of Axl Pons’ teachers), in memory of her teacher, the esteemed oboist John Mack. Though I never met him, I feel I have come to know him through his recordings, through Petrea and her colleagues and, in a very real way, by composing this piece.

As the title suggests, the composition is in fact a polyphonic work for solo oboe. (Initially, Petrea learned the piece from my manuscript, which is notated on two, three and, at times, as many as five separate staves.) It also hints at the ways influential people can shape one’s internal dialogue.

To gain a toehold for the project, I decided to use the dates of Mack’s tenure with the Cleveland Orchestra (1965-2001) as a digital soggetto cavatto. Each expository section of the Ricercare (literally “to reach out”) is based on a motive represented by the integers 1, 9, 6 and 5 (C#, A, F#, F), while those of an episodic nature feature 2, 0, 0 and 1 (D, C, C, Db) in various transpositions and transformations. The movement is intended to be both evocative and elegiac – and homage to a beloved mentor and friend – while the form and process epitomize artistic discipline and technique.

In contrast, Turkey Trot reflects both my desire to write a polyphonic companion to the first movement, as well as my fascination with the now-infamous story of the dancing turkey (which I have never witnessed, by the way), so much a part of John Mack lore and legend. Here, too, the idea is to depict polyphonic strata with a single “voice” while maintaining the levity and hilarity of the dance and the tale surrounding it. Were the registral dexterity of the work not demanding enough, the stamina required would make it a tour de force for the oboist.”

Axl Pons is currently principal oboe of the Westerville Symphony, Third Oboe/English Horn of the Ashland Symphony Orchestra, and an associate musician with the Columbus Symphony. He is also a proud member of the Columbus-based Cosa Nostra Reed Quintet. He has also performed with the Dayton Philharmonic, Muncie Symphony, Charleston Symphony, Long Bay Symphony, Cleveland Opera Theater, McConnell Arts Chamber Orchestra and Queen City Opera. He has been invited on numerous occasions to perform at the famed Broadway dinner club, Feinstein’s/54 Below (NY), performing for current Broadway performers. Axl has earned a Master of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Bachelor of Music from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He also serves as the Education and Operations Manager for the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.