Decho Ensemble Celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Birth of Adolph Sax

by Mike Telin

The saxophone duo “Jake and Sarah” are no strangers to Cleveland audiences. “We have really grown to love the city,” Jake Swanson told us in an interview prior to their October 2014 performances at Trinity Cathedral and Lorain Country Community College’s Signature Series. “The audiences are not only so sophisticated, they are also so open to new things.” This week Jake Swanson and Sarah Marchitelli will return to Cleveland along with their Decho Ensemble colleagues, saxophonists Nicholas Childs and Jared Yackiw, for two performances that celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the inventor of the saxophone, Adolph Sax. The concerts take place on Saturday, July 18 at 7:00 pm in Tucker hall at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and Sunday, July 19 at 3:00 pm at the Bop Stop.

“We keep finding ourselves back in Cleveland. It’s become like a second home to us,” Swanson said during a recent telephone conversation. “We’re very excited about this program. It’s a lot of fun, and it celebrates the early tradition of our instruments.” The concerts will include the first work ever written for saxophone quartet, Jean Baptiste Singelée’s Premier Quaturo, Op. 53, and another early work for sax quartet by American composer Caryl Florio. The program will also include works by Dan Knorr, Philip Glass, and J.S. Bach.

Adolph Sax was born on November 6, 1814 in Dinant, Belgium. “He later relocated to Paris, and in addition to the inventing the saxophone, he developed the modern tuba, euphonium, and the bass clarinet,” Swanson pointed out. “His contributions to the music community are endless, but the saxophone is his crown jewel.” Swanson went on to say that composer Jean-Baptiste Singelée was a childhood friend of Sax, who also had moved to Paris. “In 1857 he wrote a full-scale Romantic sax quartet that included a part for tenor saxophone, which had not yet been invented, so he wrote it assuming that his good friend Adolph Sax would finish the instruments soon. Premier Quatuor is in five movements, and twenty minutes in length. It’s the first saxophone quartet ever to be written, and it was performed during Sax’s lifetime.”

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