Market Harborough’s Phoenix Saxophone Orchestra were “honoured” to welcome their Patron, world-renowned saxophonist Gerard McChrystal, as he led an all-day workshop.
Some 13 Phoenix members were joined by another 13 local saxophonists for the open session at Church Langton Community Hall.
The 26 musicians were put through their paces on four very different pieces of music, provided by Phoenix Saxophone Orchestra’s sponsor Saxtet Publications.
The group focused on three original pieces for the saxophone ensemble.
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They were ‘Petite Suite for Saxes’ by Karen Street, Katherine Evison’s ‘Slip Reel’ and Nigel Wood’s atmospheric masterpiece ‘Where Spirits and Demons Dance’.
They also enjoyed playing an arrangement of the Average White Band’s million-selling instrumental ‘Pick up the Pieces’, arranged for saxophones by Ciaran O’ Donnell.
Gerard McChrystal said: “It was a special day to work with an ensemble compromising the broader saxophone family from sopranino to contrabass.
“Well done all on tackling some adventurous repertoire.
“I mainly focused on music that was originally written for saxophone ensemble, as this is so important if the genre is to be taken seriously - much as I love Star Wars and In the Mood, of course!”
The brilliant musician also shared his vast experience of playing and performing sax on an international stage as well as showing how expressive the saxophone can be.
Phoenix Saxophone Orchestra’s Jane Smith said: “We’d like to thank Gerard for an interesting and inspiring workshop.
“A couple of the pieces we played were particularly challenging.
“But with Gerard’s insightful advice and guidance on how to approach these, it’s amazing how quickly we started to get to grips with those tricky passages.”
She added: “Gerard became our Patron in August 2020 - and he’s supported us through lockdown with online Zoom workshops.
“We are so pleased to have finally been able to meet up in person and also to welcome other saxophonists to learn and play with us.”