How did John Adams come to write you a saxophone concerto?

Even though I had been a huge fan for many years and we had the chance to meet once or twice, a friendship began after I seized the opportunity to be part of the premiere of City Noir with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. From the first rehearsal, I know John would say that he was taken with the care and commitment I immediately brought to the now iconic saxophone part in that work. From then on, John requested I be hired to perform the work in various places, especially when he was conducting. This relationship allowed him to learn more about my life and work, and I’d like to think I inspired him as much as he inspired me. I made some overtures about a new solo work along the way, and once a window opened for a new project for him, he suggested a concerto. It was one of those dream moments.

What are the particular challenges of the work?

Stamina is definitely an issue, but on a more musical level, it requires from the soloist a broad understanding of the styles and colors possible on the saxophone. Further, the...