A few years ago, composer Carter Pann saw the Capitol Quartet -- a saxophone ensemble --play at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where Carter teaches. The musicians blew him away.

Carter sat in the audience that night and decided he had to write for the group. The concert ended, and Carter bolted backstage to ask the saxophonists to let him compose something for them.

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The Capitol Quartet said yes. The piece that followed -- called “The Mechanics: Six From The Shop Floor” -- would make Carter a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2016.

Here’s the story of what inspired “The Mechanics,” and an exclusive recording from the CPR Performance Studio featuring the ensemble that gave the Colorado premiere of the piece: the Black Diamond Saxophone Quartet. Click the audio link above to hear this episode of Centennial Sounds, the newest podcast from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio. 

Explore more music while you wait for the next episode: