Soul is in the air with Solaire
April 4, 2011 —
Music enthusiasts were blown away last Saturday by the quality and versatility of the four-man group of professional saxophone musicians.
The quartet opened its performance by playing the 18th-century oratorio, “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba,” composed by George Frederic Handel.
Otis Murphy, playing soprano, told the audience “the sax wasn’t invented until 1840,” so beginning the evening with an original saxophone rendition of Handel’s classic communicated to the audience just how much variety there is in music composition.
Murphy is the recipient of numerous national and international awards. Currently, he is associate professor of music (saxophone) at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Murphy says his travels and experiences around the world as a musician have taught him an important lesson: “Music transcends culture; it is a universal language that we all have the ability to speak and feel.”
All the members of the quartet reside in Indiana, and they’ve been playing together for close to three years.
“We’ve steadily changed and altered the program of our performance over the years,” Scotty Stepp (alto), said. “One of the most important things to understand about musical performance is to know how to appeal to your audience.”
Stepp is a part-time assistant professor of music (saxophone) at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind.
After the intermission, Stepp gave an introduction to the piece that seemed to have one of the most enthusiastic responses from the audience, David Maslanka’s “Mountain Roads.”
“It is a six-movement piece that is very modern and follows the model of a Brock cantata,” said Stepp. “The piece is a metaphor for new life and the inevitability of death and change. It is meant to express all things deeply sweet and deeply sad.”
One of the last pieces the quartet played was called “Americana Suite for Saxophone Quartet.” Ralph Martino originally composed the ensemble.
“This rendition is important because it shows the audience just how many different styles of music that you can play with the saxophone,” Dana Booher (baritone) said.
Booher serves as an adjunct woodwind at Vincennes University and an associate instructor of saxophone at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
During the evening, the Solaire Quartet covered many genres, such as classical, blues, jazz and American folk music.
It’s a testament to why the saxophone is such an inspirational instrument to Booher.
“My parents have always been incredibly supportive of my love for music,” said Booher, “And another major inspiration for me has been Otis.”
Booher said he has been receiving musical instruction from Murphy for eight years.
Although a new position in Washington D.C. may mean that Booher has to say farewell to the group, Sam Fritz (tenor) said the quartet is planning a new recording of its program.
Fritz is director of bands at Center Grove Middle School Central in Greenwood, Ind. He teaches sixth- through eighthgrade concert bands, pep band, jazz band and chamber music ensembles.
As the evening drew to a close, Murphy prefaced the quartet’s final piece, Henry Filmore’s, “The Circus Bees,” by expressing his gratitude for the audience’s support, proving once more how easily music can bring people together.