PHOTO: Members of the New Century Saxophone Quartet are, from left, Chris Hemingway, Michael Stephenson, Drew Hays and Stephen Pollock, who was substituted for by Xin Gao in a concert of Brown County Civic Music Association.
The players were Drew Hays, baritone; Chris Hemingway, alto; Michael Stephenson, soprano; and Xin Gao, tenor, substituting for Stephen Pollock. The men dressed casually, in keeping with much of the fare they performed.
- Johann Sebastian Bach: “The Art of the Fugue,” three movements
- George Gershwin: Selections from “Porgy and Bess,” including “I Got Plenty ’o Nuthin’,” “Bess, You Is My Woman Now,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “Summertime”
- Leonard Bernstein: Selections from “West Side Story,” including “I Feel Pretty,” “One Hand, One Heart,” “Officer Krupke,” “
- Jose Oliver Riojas: “
- Robert Burns: “My Wife’s a Winsome Wee Thing,” “Bannocks O Bearmeal”
- Astor Piazzolla: “Bordel 1900”
- Jacques Press: “Wedding Dance”
- Glenn Haynes: “My Lord What a Morning”
- Dmitri Shostakovich: “Folk Dances”
- Encore: Gospel-rooted selection featuring Chris Hemingway
New Century Saxophone Quartet is at home in complex, interwoven takes on existing material. A piece becomes not just a reciting of a melody but a web of colorful music threads.
Its weakest section – to me it was dry – was its tip of the hat to Johann Sebastian Bach and his fugues. The playing didn’t add anything to Bach’s wondrously interlocking music. The sound was a step down from the original. The selection, in name only, gave deference to the musically typically heard on a program of the Brown County Civic Music Association. A minor grumble, considering the splashy playing the rest of the way.
Sections on “Porgy and Bess” and “West Side Story” were brim with melodic riches and spicy harmonics of the varied saxophone voices – the players bobbing and weaving, swooping and dancing on one leg or the other as they added oomph to a note, a passage or the final note, precisely met.
In the second half, the quartet delightfully explored folk music of
Many of the pieces on the program expressed deep knowledge of what makes the saxophone tick and how its sound can be sculpted to vivid soundscapes. The work of the arrangers often dazzled.
REST OF SEASON: Paul Jacobs, organ, at
2014-2015 SEASON: Anthony Kearns, Irish tenor, Sept. 27; Red Priest, Nov. 7; Isthmus Brass Ensemble, Dec. 13; I Musici di Roma, March 21, 2015; Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, May 9, 2015
THE VENUE: Ralph Holter Auditorium in
THE PERSON: Ralph Holter spoke softly and carried a big impact. He was conductor of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, which performed regularly in the hall that bears his name. Holter taught music at
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