Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Tales from the road

After 2000 miles, three successful recitals, one radio broadcast, one review in The New York Times, and many great memories, (and, of course, a wonderful review from David Salvage), I'm home.

What a trip. I actually set out last Sunday in order to get to New York for a Monday morning masterclass at the Manhattan School of Music. As I was leaving Michigan, I had the radio tuned to NPR and heard on the local news broadcast that over the last few days southeastern Michigan had experienced a dramatic spike in flu outbreaks. I'd actually sent a student home on Friday because he was coughing a lot during his lesson. I couldn't afford to get sick with the NY recital coming up. Had I escaped the plague? Well, as it turned out, I hadn't. I could feel my body telling me that something was wrong.

When I finally got to New York City ten hours later, I checked into the hostel I was supposed to stay at and then promptly checked out. Sure, it looks nice on the website . . . I couldn't even fit my saxophones, equipment, and suitcases in the room. Not to mention that the door didn't seem to close very tightly. I made an emergency reservation at the International House and was lucky to have gotten a room on such short notice. It was the "Middle East Suite." I won't forget it! It probably saved my performance.

The bad news was that I was getting sick. I could feel it. And it wasn't just a small cold. It was a flu-like illness. My sinuses ached and were in danger of closing up, which would make me completely incapable of playing Alvin Lucier's Spira Mirabilis since it requires me to circular breathe for nearly three minutes. My "stay healthy" regimen over the next three days included drinking about three gallons of water per day, zinc supplements, Sudafed every four hours, a one-a-day multivitamin, three Odwalla Citrus C-Monster beverages per day (1000% vitamin C per serving), and plenty of rest. I was so nervous about getting sick that I didn't go outside unless I was completely bundled up. This hat helped a lot. (It was pretty cold in New York City that week.)

When it was all said and done, I was able to hold the sickness at bay and turn in a great performance, feeling as though it was one of the best, if not the best, performance of my career. In fact, the Sudafed probably helped my performance of the Philip Glass work. See, there's no place in the work for me to clear my mouthpiece out if saliva starts to accumulate. The Sudafed dried me up so much that I wasn't producing any! A blessing in disguise? Probably not. I wish that I didn't have to deal with being sick, which finally set in the next day. (It's funny though, I must have pounded the illness so hard that it never fully developed and I only felt as if I had been sick, as in getting over it, not that I was sick.) However, I'm fortunate that everything turned out so positively and am looking forward to many more New York performances.
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