The Saints: Three Pieces for Orchestra with Audience Participation

2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (2nd doubling soprano saxophone), alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (one player), optional banjo, piano, strings, tape playback system (cassette)

The Saints is based on When the Saints Go Marching In, a Dixieland classic that tradition holds was played at funerals in New Orleans around 1900 — slowly on the way to the cemetery and quickly coming back.

Each of the three pieces in The Saints is designed to explore and illustrate a musical idea. The opening piece, Choirs, shows off the musical families of the orchestra. The second, Joyful Noise, presents many extended instrumental sounds and special effects. The third, Marching In evokes the slow march to the cemetary and the jazzed-up procession home.

This work was commissioned by the 92nd Street Y in New York City for its Sidney A. Wolff School Music Series.


  1. Choirs
  2. Joyful Noise
  3. Marching In
Composed: 1990
Duration: 10:00
Publisher: Music Associates of New York


A concise deconstruction of “When the Saints Go Marching In” spanning a pocket concerto for orchestra, electronics-enhanced compositional play, and some respectable symphonic second-lining (including a proficiently primed audience sing-along), “The Saints,” in design and performance, illustrated the evening’s other virtues: invention, craft, judicious renewal of commonplaces. As travel so often does, Perera’s New Orleans jaunt crystallized the virtues of home.

Boston Globe, April 1, 2017



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