Apollo Saxophone Quartet
ROB BUCKLAND ~ CARL RAVEN ~ ANDY SCOTT ~ JAMES FIELDHOUSE
The Apollo Saxophone Quartet has been internationally acclaimed as one of the UK's most innovative and exciting contemporary ensembles for the last twenty-five years.
Established at the Royal Northern College of Music in 1985, the group set out to develop an original repertoire, drawing upon influences from a wide variety of cultures and disciplines, combining contemporary classical, jazz, folk and world music. Dedicated to a policy of commissioning and performing new works by today's leading composers, the Apollo Saxophone Quartet has thus become defined by its unique repertoire and has firmly established its position at the forefront of contemporary performance. Richard Rodney Bennett, Graham Fitkin, Howard Skempton, Michael Torke, Django Bates, Michael Nyman and Bob Mintzer are just some of the composers who feature in the quartet's repertoire of over 100 works dedicated to the group, which is now being further enhanced by the addition of original works by the members of the Quartet itself.
The Apollo Saxophone Quartet maintains a high profile at many leading UK Festivals (such as Brighton, Bath, Vale of Glamorgan, Harrogate, Spitalfields, Warwick & Leamington and Norfolk & Norwich) and venues throughout the UK, Europe and Japan, as well as giving regular radio and TV broadcasts. Their highly successful debut CD "First & Foremost" for Decca's Argo label reached no.3 in the UK classical music charts within one month of sales. They are also featured on; Django Bates' Decca (Argo) release "Good Evening.....here is the news" performing his quartet (an Apollo commission), “Travel Cartoons for the Blind”, and Michael Torke's release on the same label "Overnight Mail", performing the Apollo commissioned quartet “July” and also “Flint” (for saxophone quartet, cello, double bass, and two pianos, one played by the composer himself). In 1998, the group released “Word & Pictures”, a ground breaking CD exclusively featuring music written by the members of the Quartet, with special guest poet Lemn Sissay joining the group for a new work for four saxophones and poet that has already attracted a great deal of interest from promoters throughout the world. In 1999 the ASQ undertook an extensive UK Tour with the Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company in which they premiered Django Bates' A Fine Frenzy, a virtuosic multi-media work written especially for the ASQ to perform. 2001 saw the release of “Works for Us”, a disc featuring some of the groups new commissions, and a recording of John Casken's Distant Variations for Saxophones and Winds, and 2004 saw the release of the group’s latest CD “Short Cuts” (on the Quartz label) featuring new music commissioned by the ASQ and the Gulbenkian Foundation from some of Portugal’s leading composers. These new works received their world premieres in London in December 2004, and in Portugal later the same year. 2006 saw the release of the groups latest CD “Three Quartets” featuring the music of Barbara Thompson and the ASQ plans to record a concertos CD featuring new commissioned concertos for Saxophone Quartet and Strings with the Goldberg ensemble in time for the group’s 25th anniversary in 2010, along with a disc of new commissions from composers such as Keith Tippett and Dai Fujikura among others.
Recent projects have included a major commission for the Quartet to write 60 minutes of film scores for Saxophones and silent film for Phoenix Arts, a collaboration with jazz saxophonist Julian Arguelles, several appearances at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, including a world premiere of a new work written for the group by Mike Gibbs for Saxophones, Piano and Percussion, with Joanna MacGregor & Simone Rebello, and a residency at the ISCM World Music Days Festival with poet Lemn Sissay. Current projects include a multi-media project with composer Matt Wright featuring video relays, live and pre-recorded sampling and DJ, and a collaborative project with the Goldberg ensemble, performing newly commissioned music for Saxophone Quartet and String Ensemble.
The ASQ regularly presents specialist Saxophone Days and workshops with young composers at schools, Universities and Conservatoires throughout the UK. The group has also composed an extensive series of compositions for young saxophonists, published by astute-music.com, (many of which are now included on the associated Board exam syllabus) ranging from quartets and duets to solo studies and saxophone and piano albums.