The Common Thread


for alto saxophone and percussion (2016)

Sold By Mavis MacNeil
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Written for and performed by Bent Frequency at the Charlotte New Music Festival, June 2016. Jan Baker, alto saxophone; Stuart Gerber, percussion.


Percussion setup: vibraphone, bongos, snare, suspended cymbal, soft yarn mallets, wood drum sticks, bow


aloe vera
solanum lycopersinum (cerasiforme)
chlorophytum cosmosum
crassula ovata

Program Notes

In the rural area of northern Vermont where I grew up, gardening is widely accepted as a fundamental part of life. Everybody grows something; whether it’s a full vegetable garden or a small patch of phlox. Over time I have come to recognize the remarkable unifying power of caring for plants – it brings joy to everyone, no matter their opinions on anything else.

As a graduate student, I did not have the luxury of a home permanent enough to allow for a garden – and so I had an ever-growing collection of potted plants. No matter where I live, they make it feel like home.

“The Common Thread” is a set of miniatures, each of which is inspired by one of my plants: a “peace lily” that was a gift from a co-worker (and which is not actually a peace lily but is simply a mystery); a cutting from my mother’s aloe vera, which is older than I am; a cherry tomato that I planted when I started graduate school, and which it seems will never blossom; a spider plant that comes from my brother’s and reminds me of him every day; and an alien-looking trumpet jade, taken from the much older plant of a dear old friend.



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