'Uncrowned kings of sax' get royal welcome in Dubai
New Year, time for something new.
Known as the ‘uncrowned kings of the saxophone’ the Raschèr Saxophone Quartet (RSQ) is Kenneth Coon on baritone saxophone, Christine Rall on soprano sax, Elliot Riley on alto and Bruce Weinberger on tenor sax.
A professional ensemble of four saxophonists performing both classical and modern music, the group was founded in the US in 1969 by classical saxophonist Sigurd Rascher and his daughter, Carina.
Having appeared at major concert halls from Carnegie Hall in New York to the Opera Bastille Paris and the Royal Festival Hall in London, tonight the group adds Dubai to their ever-growing list. Ahead of a performance at the Madinat Theatre, courtesy of The Fridge, RSQ member Elliot Riley chats to tabloid!
What can we expect from the show?
A. Above all else I expect to meet new and interesting people. When we perform our concert, my hopes are that we can share and introduce our music repertoire and tradition to a new culture.
Q. Have you ever been to Dubai before and do you have any expectations?
A. I have never been to Dubai before. Since I am a visitor — a guest really, I would rather travel without burdening myself or others with expectations. I know that I will enjoy my visit immensely and have a lot of fun.
Q. Is it difficult to get people who are not so interested in classical music to embrace your music?
A. No, this is fairly easy I would say. It’s a matter of proper presentation really. The process of making music is for me a great joy, either during practices and rehearsals with my colleagues or on stage with my colleagues and with our audience. When we play a concert the audience is also, our guests, and it is our obligation to make sure during this time they feel at home with the music and that they come along for the musical journey that we are presenting.
Q. How can you help bridge the gap between mainstream and classical music?
A. I must confess this is not a specific goal of mine. If the composer has written a piece that contains elements of pop culture or mainstream, I am very happy to play it, if it is well done. When I am exploring a new piece of music, I’m not thinking if it’s mainstream or classical. First and foremost it is music, and it conveys the temperament that either appeals to my liking or not.
Q. Tell us about some of the fantastic venues you’ve been lucky enough to play?
A. In my fist year with RSQ, we played a concert in Carnegie Hall. There must have been 40 of my friends and family there, including my grandparents, who still lived in New York at the time, and who had spent an entire lifetime visiting concerts in that hall. This experience is difficult to top for me.
Q. Have you performed with any famous faces?
A. We had the great fortune of being sought out by the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle during his first season in Berlin. They wanted us to play with them in Bernstein’s “Wonderful Town” for their New Year’s concert. It was a special, magical time— it was virtually impossible to find a magazine about classical music during that year that didn’t have Sir Simon on the cover. The orchestra was also very excited, I am proud to have filled my humble role in all of that.
Q. Why the saxophone over other instruments?
A. I believe in the sound of Mr. Sax [Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax, who invented the instrument in the 1840s]! The idea of it, the sound Sax dreamed of before he put the pipe, keys and reed together, is a very beautiful, flexible, and powerful sound.
The RSQ play The Score at the Madinat Theatre tonight (Tues) at 7.45pm. Tickets, priced Dh185, are available at the theatre box office. Middle row seats priced Dh250 have sold out.
By Kelly Crane