Tent of Miracles

for Solo Baritone Saxophone and 3 pre-recorded Baritone Saxophones
Versions possible for 4 Bass Clarinets, 4 Bassoons
Dedicated to David Mott

Tent of Miracles was premiered on July 5, 1984, in Hartford at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Avery Theatre, as part of the New Music America festival. David Mott was the soloist.

The title is taken from the novel Tent of Miracles (Tenda dos Milagres) by Brazilian author Jorge Amado. The following quotation from the book is not intended as a program for the music, but rather to help evoke the spirit of the vivid, exuberant, popular art of the people of Bahia.

It wasn't every day that a miracle was painted with such perfection. Lídio wrote in his careful hand at the bottom of the Picture 'Great Miracle performed by Our Lord of Bonfim on the 15th of January, 1904, for Ramiro Assís and family when the same was traveling from Amargosa to Morro Preto with his wife, an unmarried sister, three children, and a nursemaid and was attacked at night by a jaguar in the clearing where they were sleeping. When they called aloud on Our Lord of Bonfim the jaguar became gentle and docile and harmlessly went away. Reduced to four lines, the story sounded very simple.

Master Corró painstakingly drew Christ crucified, one arm free and pointing toward the jaguar and Assís with his family. At the top of the painting, where the saint was performing the miracle, light was beginning to overcome darkness in anticipation of the dawn.

Lídio Corró turned again to his favorite figure, the formidable striped cat, gigantic and pitiless, with its flaming eyes and its mouth, oh, that fearful mouth, smiling at the baby! The artist tried his best to erase the smile and the look of affection; he gave the backlands jaguar the bearing of a tiger and the ferocity of a dragon. But he couldn't help it: the fiercer he made the jaguar, the broader the animal's smile; between the wild beast and the child there was a secret pact, an old familiarity, an immemorial friendship. Lídio gave up and signed the painting. On the red border around the picture he wrote his name and address in white ink: Mestre Lídio Corró, Tent of Miracles, Rua Tabuão, 6O.

Special thanks to John Brown Childs for bringing me to the Tent's door.

Tent of Miracles, translated from the Portuguese by Barbara Shelby, Alfred Knopf, Inc., 1971, New York.