for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion and piano

Written: 1999
Duration: 9'
Instrumentation: flute (doubling alto flute and police whistle], B-flat clarinet, violin, cello (doubling police whistle), percussion (see score for percussion instrumentation) and piano (doubling maracas)
Written on a fellowship and in-residence at the Aspen Music Festival and School
Winner of the ASCAP Morton Gould Composer Award
World Premiere: Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Jonathan Schiffman, conductor, Aspen Music Festival and School, Center for Composition Studies Advanced Master Class Concert, Harris Concert Hall, Aspen CO, July 16, 1999.
PublisherBill Holab Music

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Although this sextet is not intended to openly convey a specific program, the work itself is inspired by television shows that expose people in the act of committing crimes. The form and materials are developed from imaginary scenes depicting a day in the life of a criminal: running scared (from the police), traveling on the interstate, having nightmares while sleeping (probably in a rundown motel in the middle of nowhere off Old Route 66), looming shadows and hysterical visions, breaking out in cold sweat when someone supposedly comes looking and traveling again at 1:00 a.m. As you would expect, the unfortunate criminal is finally caught in the end.




Press Quotes

Review of a performance by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble...

The first half was lively, opening with Robert Paterson’s Sextet. Beware the generic name: this piece was a brilliant riff on TV real crime shows. Seeing “Cops” and other shows as packaging real emotion for comfortable consumption, Paterson instead infused the work with a nervous energy—the real sweat on the brow of a perp who knows the jig is up. From strident whistles to a siren imitated in a violin glissando to anxious rhythms, this piece definitely got its man.
— Andrew Druckenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Review of the New York City, Merkin Hall premiere by the Da Capo Chamber Players...

The concert opened with Robert Paterson’s entertaining Sextet, inspired by “television shows that expose people in the act of committing crimes,” perhaps referring to Cops, a long-running and popular show in the United States. With periodic and startling whistle blasts, the format covers a criminal’s day of running from the police, traveling by car, breaking out in a cold sweat in a motel and finally getting caught, after a colorful rumba chase scene.
— Bruce Hodges, MusicWeb International
...laced with humorous touches.... Sextet is filled with antic flurries of motion, police whistles, and scurrying gestures, bringing to mind a crime-caper film.
— Christian B. Carey, Musical America
I’ve just now had a chance to hear the disc you sent of your recital. Bravo! Everything on there is musical. I especially enjoyed the Sextet and the Wind Quintet.
— Grammy® and Pulitzer Prize Winning Composer Christopher Rouse
I particularly loved your Sextet—it capped off and summed up the evening well, I believe. Just a full sound and rich textures but constantly moving forward—not easy to have both, but you did and it was exciting!
— David Ludwig, Composer Composition Faculty, Director of the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble, Curtis Institute of Music