The New Century Saxophone Quartet made an appearance in Centerville Saturday night, March 15 at Simon Estes Auditorium and thrilled audiences with their virtuosity and musicianship. I think it is amazing that the Centerville Concert Association can book ensembles such as New Century, who are known throughout the world in concert venues and on radio and television.
New Century presented a concert in every musical style from the classics to jazz. They opened the show playing a medley titled “The Art of the Fugue” by J.S. Bach. They followed that with selections from the opera “Porgy and Bess,” then selections from the Broadway show “West Side Story” which included “I Feel Pretty,” “One Hand, One Heart,” “Officer Krupke” and “America.”
I always enjoy the educational stories that the artists share about the music and the instruments. The members of this quartet were fantastic musicians and their blend and intonation was perfect. The Soprano saxophone player was Michael Shephenson from North Carolina. Playing the Alto saxophone was Chris Hemingway from Pittsburgh, Penn. The Tenor saxophone player was from Chengdu City, China and is named Xin Gao. The Baritone saxophone is a professor of music in Greensboro, N.C.
Following the intermission, New Century took the audience on a world tour featuring folk music. Each of the artists were featured at various times during this segment. They started in Mexico with a tune called “Veracruz.” Then we heard a beautiful arrangement of “My Lord What a Morning.” I enjoyed the Jewish “Wedding Dance,” which depicted people dancing around a chair. The Robert Burns suite was interesting because the quartet sounded liked a couple of bagpipes from Scotland. The program ended with very rhythmic tunes from Argentina in South America and some folk dances from Russia composed by Shostakovich. We were treated to an encore with much improvisation on a tune called “Gospel Fever.” Many of the patrons were really impressed with the quality and technique of the New Century Saxophone Quartet.
Mark you calendar for Sunday afternoon, April 6 at 2:30 p.m. when the next concert in the 2013-2014 series will feature the Albia Community Choir under the direction of Paul Peterson. The 40 member choir has singers and instrumentalists from the southern Iowa communities of Albia, Bloomfield, Centerville, Coralville, Corydon and Oskaloosa.