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Asylum Quartet

     On Saturday April 11 at 7:30 pm, in the University of Maine-Farmington Nordica Auditorium, The Arts Institute of Western Maine is pleased to present  The Asylum Saxophone Quartet.

     From lush classical works to minimalism, modernism, indie rock, world music, and klezmer, this group of four saxophones can do it all!  The youthful and classically-trained performers   graduated from The Hartt School (Hartford, CT)   and have subsequently  performed worldwide, earning praise and awards in national chamber music competitions. For example, they received  the Grand Prize in the 2014 International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition in Boston, Massachusetts, becoming the first saxophone quartet to receive this honor. 

     Asylum Hill,  from which the group takes its name, is a  storied neighborhood in Hartford, which in the  mid-nineteenth century,   was an important commercial, political, and cultural capital and home to  literary figures such as Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Today, the quartet has committed  to captivating diverse audiences and contributing to the vibrancy of its home city with outreach performances and  residencies engaging youth in the Connecticut-Massachussetts area; we are fortunate to experience their enthusiasm here in Maine.  Recent highlights of their tours include a concert at the Boston Athenaeum, performances before film screenings at the 2014 Traverse City Film Festival, a two-concert debut at the Newport Music Festival, a two-week residency at Avaloch Farm Music Institute (NH) and a mainstage concert at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas (CT). 

     The group performs music selected for its audience, and performs arrangements  of Franck, Grieg, Gershwin, Appalachian, electric, and popular kid-focused music such as “Groove Machine” by   Mellits. As enthusiastic performers of new music, the quartet has also collaborated closely with young and fresh composers including among a large list,  Ryan Jesperson (who happens to be the husband of  Sarah Washburn, a Farmington local!)  Asylum's 2014-2015 season features an original arrangement of Philip Glass's String Quartet No. 5.   This group brings energy and optimism, and as Jesperson says,  "One can't help but smile and be pulled into their sonic world." 

     The members of the Asylum Quartet are Joseph Abad, Tony Speranza, Max Schwimmer, Andrew Barnhart on soprano, alto, tenor, baritone sax, respectively.

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