Wednesday, January 26, 2005
AV log: 1/26

I mentioned in a previous post that I'll be presenting American Voices, a New York debut recital on February 16 at Columbia University's Miller Theater. As the date nears, I thought I'd give periodic updates on my progress and also provide some insights on the planning and thought process that went into the show.

First, why play a New York Debut? I've heard some people refer to the tradition as a dinosaur. Well, I think that for many of us, a New York debut is still an important rite of passage. It's a way of saying, "Here I am and this is what I do."

Even if the tradition is somewhat archaic, I've tried to choose a program that is fresh and adventurous. The music I play is the most important component of the recital. My choice of repertoire could mean the difference between piquing a critic's interest or simply having them toss my letter of invitation, press release, and months of planning and work into an anonymous pile. There's a lot of music that saxophonists like to perform and understand the difficulty of that probably wouldn't attract anyone else's attention but the saxophone cognoscenti. I didn't want to fall into that trap.

So what am I playing? I picked music by American composers whose voices have helped define and shape America's new music landscape. The composers are: Michael Gordon, Lee Hyla, Alvin Lucier, Charles Wuorinen, Philip Glass, Martin Bresnick, Chris Theofanidis, and Derek Hurst. In addition to being dynamic musical voices, a number of them have been featured in recent years as part of the Miller Theater's "Composer Portrait" series. The music runs the sonic gamut from the traditional saxophone and piano duo to saxophone alone, with electronics, pre-recorded saxophones, and even amplified electric light. You can find more information about the program here.

My goal is for the recital to represent both the vibrancy and diversity of new American music for saxophone.
Praised by The New York Times as "an inventive musician . . . fresh and surprising," saxophonist Brian Sacawa has firmly established himself as an important contemporary voice for his instrument. He is active as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician throughout the United States and is the co-founder of the new music duo Non-Zero with percussionist Timothy Feeney.

He has given premieres of over thirty works by both established and emerging composers, including Michael Gordon, Bright Sheng, Andrew Mead, Oliver Schneller, Ken Ueno, Beata Moon, Hillary Zipper, and Scott McAllister, among many others. Named the Baltimore CITYPAPER’s Critic’s Choice for Classical Music in 2002, he is the recipient of awards for solo performance from both national and international competitions.

Sacawa's versatile career has led to appearances with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony, Harvard Group for New Music, New Music Brandeis, Bargemusic, and at meetings of the ISU Contemporary Music Festival, World Saxophone Congress, North American Saxophone Alliance, and New England Saxophone Symposium.

Brian holds degrees from the University of Michigan, the Peabody Conservatory, and the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, where he studied with Donald Sinta, Gary Louie, and Lynn Klock. He has recorded for the Equililbrium, Naxos, and BiBimBop recording labels.

See Brian's other blog
Sounds Like Now