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Santa Fe Concert Series

2016-17 Academic Year: Spring Semester

Evening Concert: Ashu, saxophone and Kuang-Hao Huang, piano

Friday, January 20, 7:30 p.m., The Great Hall

Ashu is a native of California and a recent graduate of Northwestern University, still in his 20s. Since his recital debut at Carnegie Hall in New York, he has had continual engagements as soloist in major concert halls and festivals around the world. He is one of the foremost promoters of the classical saxophone today, and offers a moving new experience of the instrument, even for admirers of the art of Parker and Coltrane. He has won a long list of international prizes, traditionally garnered by pianists and violinists, such as the “Audience Prize” at the Musical Olympus Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. Ashu is also known as a dynamic personality and captivator of audiences, said to be “just as much fun to watch as to listen to.” (Dallas Morning News).

The saxophones are relative newcomers to the classical symphonic orchestra. Invented in 1840 as a sonorous bridge between the brass instruments and the woodwinds, they first gained popularity in military and concert bands. Toward the end of the century, before the saxophones filled the jazz clubs in America, the great composers discovered them. Jules Massanet took Paris audiences by surprise with the mournful alto saxophone solo in his opera Werther; and one of Debussy’s most ravishing instrumental pieces, the Rhapsody for Saxophone and Orchestra, was commissioned by a lady from Boston. Alexander Glazunov’s symphonic concerto for saxophone would soon follow. Ashu’s repertoire encompasses these as well as other brilliant works by 20th- and 21st-century composers, including several heartache Tangos by Argentina’s Astor Piazzolla.

Concert Program

Concertino da Camera Jacques Ibert

I. Allegro con molto (1890-1962)

II. Larghetto-animato molto

Andante from Sonata, Op.19 Sergei Rachmaninoff (arr. Ashu) (1873-1943)

Sonata, Op.19, for alto saxophone and piano Paul Creston

I. With Vigor (1906-1985)

II. With Tranquility

III. With Gaiety


Three tangos, arranged for soprano saxophone & piano Astor Piazzolla (arr. Ashu)

To be announced from the stage (1921-1992)

Italian Film Suite Ennio Morricone (arr. Ashu) (b.1928)

Fantaisie sur un Thème Original for alto saxophone and piano Jules Demersseman (1833-1866)

Evening Concert: Parker String Quartet

Friday, February 24, 7:30 p.m., The Great Hall

$20 at the door, free for St. John’s students, tutors, and staff.

Inspiring performances, luminous sound, and exceptional musicianship are the hallmarks of the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet. Renowned for its dynamic interpretations and polished, expansive colors, the group has rapidly distinguished itself as one of the preeminent ensembles of its generation. In demand worldwide, the Quartet has appeared at the most important venues worldwide since its founding in 2002. Highlights of the 2016-17 season include the ensemble’s ongoing concert series at Harvard as the Blodgett Artists-in-Residence; a January 2017 European tour featuring performances with violist Kim Kashkashian; and two concerts in Washington, DC: at the National Gallery of Art and with jazz pianist Billy Childs at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The Parker Quartet has distinguished itself with acclaimed recordings for Zig-Zag Territoires, Innova Records, and Naxos. The Quartet’s debut commercial recording of Bartók’s String Quartets Nos. 2 and 5 for Zig-Zag Territoires (July 2007) won praise from Gramophone: “The Parkers’ Bartók spins the illusion of spontaneous improvisation… they have absorbed the language; they have the confidence to play freely with the music and the instinct to bring it off.” Their Naxos recording of György Ligeti’s complete works Continued… for string quartet won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance (the last string quartet to win this category).

Founded and currently based in Boston, the Parker Quartet’s numerous honors include winning the Concert Artists Guild Competition, the Grand Prix and Mozart Prize at France’s Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition, and Chamber Music America’s prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award. Now Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Department of Music, and also in residence at USC School of Music, the Quartet’s numerous residencies have included serving as Artists-in-Residence at the University of St. Thomas (2012–14), Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Minnesota (2011–12), Quartet-in-Residence with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (2008-10), and as the first-ever Artists-in-Residence with Minnesota Public Radio (2009-10).

The Parker Quartet’s members hold graduate degrees in performance and chamber music from the New England Conservatory of Music and were part of the New England Conservatory’s prestigious Professional String Quartet Training Program from 2006–08. Some of their most influential mentors include the original members of the Cleveland Quartet, Kim Kashkashian, György Kurtág, and Rainer Schmidt.

Concert Program

String Quartet No.1 in E-flat Major, op. 12 - Felix Mendelssohn
Capriccio (Suite) - Jeremy Gill
String Quartet No.3 in F Major, op. 73 - Dmitri Shostakovich