YSU sax quartet seeks to win title at state competition


Four Dana School of Music saxophonists will compete as a quartet at Oberlin Conservatory of Music Oct. 20 for the state title in chamber music. Rachel Lundberg brings us the details.

The competition, hosted by the Music Teachers National Association or MTNA, will stand as the first obstacle in a three-level competition for quartet members Kevin Snyder, Brian Newell, Mark Higgins and Rebecca Little.

Their saxophone professor, James Umble.

Their dedication to this goal is unbelievable. And their desire to do well as a group is really in place there and it’s commendable and rare.

The quartet started work on their 40-minute program in late August and had their first public performance Sept. 28. One piece, which is playing in the background, is very special to the group this year, the Dvorak String Quartet Number 12.

We arranged it from the string quartet to this version that we did. Everyone pretty much did their own part and we brought it together, figured out what we needed to edit and what parts didn’t work for saxophone.

That’s Brian Newell, who plays tenor sax. This is the first year that a YSU chamber group has arranged a piece for the competition.

Umble is pleased with their work.

They’ve done it themselves, which is amazing. They’ve made their own transcription. This is an arrangement of the Dvorak String Quartet. And translating string playing to saxophone playing is very challenging.

The quartet competed last year as well, winning the first level of competition and receiving runner-up at the second.

In the past I think we’ve had similar results. I don’t think we’ve ever gone to the nationals. So we’ve come very close in the past. Maybe this is our year.

The group hopes that with Rebecca Little as the only new face this year, their experience together will bring them to the final, national competition.

Obviously there’s an advantage to having three people that know each others playing from last year. So that continuity going forward is huge in a quartet.

The saxophone quartet had its last live performance Oct. 4 until they compete later this month.

Reporting for TheNewsOutlet.org, I’m Rachel Lundberg.