Keene State’s Saxophone Ensemble and Brass Ensemble performed a combined concert on Sunday, Nov. 13 at the Redfern Arts Center Alumni Recital Hall.
The Saxophone Ensemble was established in 1998 by Dr. Craig Sylvern. “I’ve been playing saxophone for over 50 years, I’ve been teaching at Keene State since 1998…this makes it my 25th year,” Sylvern said.
In regard to the preparation, he said, “The saxophone ensemble meets once a week…we rehearse on Tuesdays and last rehearsal went very well…I think it’ll be good on Sunday.”
Sylvern hopes for the audience to see “the fact that the saxophone ensemble can be a versatile chamber group and play…many different styles.”
The Sax Ensemble has a repertoire that includes pieces from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary periods, as well as showcasing pieces from over the last 100 years.
The performance was the debut of the group’s newest addition, a bass saxophone, played by senior Hannah Weber.
The Sax Ensemble opened with a performance of “Greased Pig Quick Step,” a piece originally written for tuba but now arranged for saxophone. Each piece performed was introduced by a different member of the ensemble and provided a brief history of the piece.
The ensemble performed two Ragtime pieces written by Arthur Frackenpohl, an American composer, who was quoted as saying, “Rags are an art form, have fun.”
The rags were followed by a performance of “The Turtle Dove,” written by Ralph Von Williams, as an adaptation of the poem of the same name.
The Sax Ensemble ended with a piece called “Cumberland Gap,” a song detailing the history of Kentucky which was performed in stomps and claps, as well as their instruments.
The program notes explained, “The repertoire performed demonstrates the tradition and possibilities of the brass ensemble genre. Students are given the opportunity to perform traditional and contemporary chamber works in a small ensemble setting.”
The Brass Ensemble opened with a song performed by a trumpet quartet, followed by two pieces from a french horn quartet. The third and fourth group were a series of pieces performed on trumpet, french horn, and slide trombone.
The group played “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” by Eric Maschwitz and Manning Sherwin, “Early Morning on the Water” by Greg Bartholomew, and “El Condor Pasa” by Leo Rojas. The quartet ended their performance with one part of a four-part song series called “Four Bridges”, the composer of which is quoted as saying, “The Brooklyn Bridge is the synthesis of art and entertainment.”
The final performance of the night was played by a 14-member brass ensemble who played a piece by Eric Whitaker that was originally written for a chamber wind ensemble but has been arranged for brass.
Benjamin Martins can be contacted at