Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Stolen music

Saxophonists like to borrow things. Especially music from other instruments. Case in point: two of the works on my recent Miller Theater recital were co-opted from woodwind colleagues--Michael Gordon's The Low Quartet although originally for double bass, trombone, bari sax, and bass clarinet, had versions for four bassoons and four bass clarinets before I made the bari sax version; and Philip Glass' Piece in the Shape of a Square is acutally for two flutes, not two alto saxophones.

These are just two recent examples, but saxophonists engage in this transcription process fiercely--sometimes, well hopefully most of the time, winning the composer's approval. This is why the saxophone has in its repertoire two Berio Sequenzas (VIIb and IXb), Scelsi's Tre Pezzi, David Lang's Press Release, and the short and sweet A Tune from Childhood by Bright Sheng, just to name a few.

I often wonder why--yes, why, composers?--must we steal your wonderful music from other instruments?
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