Saxology Saxophone Quartet celebrate their 26th Birthday

‘Coming of age’

During 2015 and as part of their 26th birthday celebrations ‘Saxology’ embark on a mini tour of theatres and churches in the east of England, develop a new website and enhanced online presence and enjoy the release of the ‘Saxology Saxophone Quartet Series’ by Camden Music. The latter features some core ‘Saxology’ repertoire from composers like Malcolm Miles, Gary Carpenter, Michael Christie and Jeffery Wilson.

They have come a long way since the auditions for a new Tenor player early in 1989. The hastily scribbled ‘ad’ in a local music store attracted just one applicant – Jeffery Wilson. He nearly did not get the job coming along as he did wearing the recent gift of a loud hawaiian shirt and making suspicious references to an ensemble ‘uniform’ including Boleros! The playing was OK though and so Jeffery joined Fiona Dermit (Soprano), Denis Hill (Alto) and Tracey Bridgeman (Baritone) to begin the ‘Saxology’ journey. Several World and British Saxophone Congresses and innumerable performances later the ensemble can look forward to a healthy future and reflect on some wonderful (and often quite hilarious) musical experiences.

Denis takes up the story:- “ Waiting to go on stage at Rossini’s old Opera House in Pesaro, northern Italy, perched on an eighteenth  century staircase in the mid morning heat about to play some fine British chamber music to an audience made up of Saxophone players – a challenge to say the least. We were certain that our mouthpieces and choice of clothing were under as much scrutiny as the music. To cap it all we followed a Belgian Alto soloist who ‘outfrenched’ the French in terms of virtuoso crème caramel, and, he wore bright yellow socks!”

“It was that celebrity wedding we played for” adds Fiona, “where we were confined in some lofty gallery out of sight and earshot then got the giggles during ‘Air on a G String’ – we could not play a note after that and simply went home being replaced by a portable radio. Nobody noticed! And what about being rained off at that bandstand? The audience joined us on stage in the one remaining dry patch, we kept going though”.

The recordings have been bonding affairs really, if you make a mistake on a long take then you need friends around you to get through the next one that’s for sure. Jeffery remembers a live appearance on Classic FM. “Every one should have an ‘ology , we have Saxology – that was how the announcer began the interview with us after which we somehow had to play ! The Paganini Variations (composed and arranged by Joseph Horowitz) have never seemed the same since”.

Tracey continues, “The performing has been great with some wonderful moments, really establishing our sound at the congress in Valencia, developing our own repertoire over the years, continuing to have fun at gigs and always trying to do better from rehearsal to performance”.

At time of writing this article we had agreed some repertoire for a gig in 24 hours and planned a rehearsal or two and some strategies for the 26th birthday celebrations next year including a social event. Oh yes did I mention? – We remain the best of friends but will not be considering the wearing of boleros.