Market Harborough’s Phoenix Saxophone Orchestra and the Aberdeenshire Saxophone Orchestra have united to produce a cross-border recording and video for International Make Music Day yesterday (Monday).
Some 17 saxophonists - 10 from Phoenix and seven from Aberdeenshire - have got together to record an arrangement of the rousing march ‘Entry of the Gladiators’.
Written by Czech composer Julius Fučík in 1897, it is instantly recognisable as one of the world’s most famous pieces of circus music.
Arranged for saxophones by PSO’s Jonathan Shaw, this challenging piece features seven different types of sax.
They range from the tiny sopranino through the more commonly seen soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones to the huge bass sax and truly enormous contrabass.
With social distancing still in place and 480 miles between the two orchestras, each of the 17 players recorded their own individual parts at home.
The recordings were then expertly assembled by Phoenix tenor saxophonist David Fiander.
The music has been spliced together with an accompanying video featuring the orchestra members playing together online over Zoom.
International Make Music Day started in France in 1981 and came to the UK in 2012.
It is a celebration of music that takes place on June 21 every year, across 125 countries.
The Phoenix’s Jane Smith, who plays soprano sax on the piece, said: “We’ve had so much fun working on this project with our new friends in Aberdeenshire.
“We wanted to produce an uplifting piece that really captured the essence of Make Music Day, which is to celebrate and foster connections in music making.”
She added: “I would say we have certainly achieved that – and we hope this exhilarating piece of music will certainly make you smile!”
Aberdeenshire’s Foss Foster, who plays tenor sax on the piece, said: “This collaboration is one positive thing to come out of lockdown.
“How else would two such geographically-distanced orchestras ever get to meet, let alone play together?
“We’re looking forward to more enterprises with Phoenix, maybe even in the real world, not just the Zoom one!”
The two orchestras first met each other virtually last year when Aberdeenshire invited Phoenix to one of their online rehearsals.
You can view the Entry of the Gladiators video on Phoenix Saxophone Orchestra’s website at phoenixsax.org.uk/makemusicday21 and also on their Youtube channel (search for ‘Phoenix Saxophone Orchestra’).