Lawrence University Saxophone Quartet Advances in Two National Competitions

The Lawrence University Saxophone Quartet will compete for top honors in a pair of upcoming prestigious national music competitions.

The quartet recently qualified for the final round of the Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition April 26 in Pasadena, Calif., and the semifinal round of the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition May 9-11 in South Bend, Ind.

Formed last fall, the quartet — seniors Ryan Alban, Casey Schmidt, Bryan Wente and Rasa Zeltina — performed four pieces for the preliminary round of both competitions: “July” by Michael Torke; “Back Burner” by Frank Ticheli; “Grave et presto” by Jean Rivier; and “Four, for tango” by Astor Piazzolla. Auditions were conducted by audio CD for the Coleman competition and by an unedited videotape for the Fischoff competition.

The two competitions are widely considered to be among the country’s most prestigious chamber music competitions. First held in 1947, the Coleman competition is an international event for non-professional chamber music ensembles. As a Coleman finalist, the Lawrence quartet will compete for four prizes totaling $13,000. The four winners will perform a formal concert Sunday, April 27 in the Ramo Auditorium on the campus of the California Institute of Technology.

The Fischoff competition, founded in 1973, is the largest national chamber music competition in the country. Open to performers 39 years of age or younger, it attracts more than 60 ensembles in both wind and string categories from top American conservatories as well as foreign nationals from more than 20 countries representing Asia, Europe and South America.

Fischoff finalists compete for seven prizes totaling $17,000, including a $5,000 grand prize award and a performance tour that includes select appearances in Italy at the Emilia Romagna Festival.

“For our students to be admitted to the final rounds of these two competitions is an important and wonderful achievement,” said Steve Jordheim, Lawrence professor of music. The quartet members are all students in Jordheim’s saxophone studio.

Alban, Schmidt and Wente are pursuing bachelor of music degrees with majors in performance and instrumental music education, while Zeltina is completing both a bachelor of music degree in performance and a bachelor of arts degree in Russian.