Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Christmas CD

It's a busy time...playing many good programs and we've just released our new Christmas CD, "Tis the Season: Celebrate with WSaxQ."
We're very pleased with the sound and the selections. It's been years in the making, planning on what to record and how we would record it! That doesn't seem like a huge decision, but when you have 4 opinions about these things, it takes time...and it did.
The result is an album of seasonal music, with old favorites and new surprises, 26 selections…including Greensleeves,
The Coventry Carol, Dances from the Nutcracker, There is a Flower, I Wonder as I Wander, In the Bleak Midwinter,
On Christmas Night, Sleepers Wake!, O Come, O Come Emmanuel, I Saw Three Ships, The Holly and the Ivy,
And All in the Morning, and many more.
We're also very pleased to have recorded it locally at the Airshow Studio in Tacoma Park, MD with Charlie Pilzer, engineering and master. That experience was great.
So we look forward to performing a bit of it at our next concert on Dec. 4.
More later...

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


This is a time of planning, a time for discussions about what to perform and what kinds of programs will be best for certain venues and situations. Discussions always center around how the music will be perceived, with the underlying assumption that we (the quartet) already like the music in question.
I just read an interview with the members of the American Brass Quintet, and ensemble that recently celebrated it's 50th Anniversary! A great accomplishment. They continue to do well and have carved out a combination of teaching/performing/recording that would make any group envious.
Our saxophone quartet is celebrating its 35th Anniversary.
The sound of a brass quintet is better known than that of a saxophone quartet. In fact, the sound of a brass group doesn't really get confused with any other group. Saxophones need to make a stronger presence, because the sound they make is not well known. Indeed, many people hearing a recording of a saxophone quartet for the first time, often think they are hearing some other combination of instruments. It is a sound that is regularly confused!
So, with all that in mind, the saxophone quartet has an added concern. If potential audiences and venue presenters have never heard a saxophone quartet before, what kind of music is best suited for that situation. It all seems very basic and simple, but the reality is that opinions and attitudes are not often based on logical premises. Many people make decisions without ample information, and in the case of a saxophone quartet, the process of whether to book a quartet is often mired in misconceptions.
What would you like to hear? Do you like familiar sounds or new sounds? Is contemporary music the most important thing in programming? Have you ever heard a saxophone quartet before?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Better Late Than Never

I know that there are many, many, people much better at this than I. I knew that when I started this BLOG! But it's time to bring things together with the new year and set a schedule for writing...and get some needed feedback, if there is any, from those who are also concerned about the future of the Classical Saxophone.
I've been making a mental list of the things that need to be done for students and teachers:
1) High School and College Students, look ahead and make sure you want to be a classical saxophone player. If you do, then make plans for forming a saxophone quartet. Find out more about the music, listen to recordings and talk to groups that are out there. Also, start going to recitals by saxophone quartets and talk to people who attend about what they heard, and what they liked and perhaps didn't like. After you've formed your group, GET OUT THERE AND PLAY FOR PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE CAMPUS ENVIRONMENT. Don't just perform for other musicians and worse, other saxophone players! Yes it's helpful to get feedback from your colleagues, but if we ever hope for classical saxophone to be a part of the serious music world, we need to get out there and create audiences.
2) Teachers - High School and College - please make the saxophone quartet something more than an addition to the curriculum. The quartet is the only way for most classical saxophone players to make their future. Sure, there will be exceptions, but most players will not be hired to perform in solo recitals and concerto performances. It hasn't happened over the last fifty years, and it's not likely to happen any time soon. The quartet is critical and what we need is Critical Mass!
Teachers, particularly at the college level, can make the biggest difference. Schools like Northwestern University, University of Michigan, Michigan State, University of Southern California, Eastman School of Music, and others have produced award winning, wonderfully, talented quartets. After they graduate, they perform for a while and then many of these groups fade away. WHY? As long the classical music business is fueled by groups that are represented by Artist Managers, the saxophone quartet will not be included in the mix! At this point, there is only one saxophone represented by a New York agency, and that's the New Century Saxophone Quartet. Good for them. But for all the other talented young quartets, we need more than that. Think about it.

More later. Please chime in and respond.