Guest Artists – 2014/15

Dr. Michael Ibrahim (West Virginia University)

ibrahim_wMichael Ibrahim is a Canadian saxophonist based in West Virginia and New York City. His performances of concertos, recital repertoire, and new music have attracted much attention. Noted for his “sheer virtuosity and musical intensity” (Calgary Herald), he has performed as a soloist throughout North America, Austria, England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, and Russia.

In praise of his solo Bach recording, Saxophone Journal wrote, “The listener is in for an exciting musical ride.” He has won numerous competitions including the North American Saxophone Alliance Classical Artist Competition, the Eisenberg-Fried Concerto Competition for Woodwinds, the Coleman Chamber Music Competition, the MTNA Woodwind Collegiate Artist and Chamber Music Competitions, and a Darmstadt Performance Prize for Contemporary Music.

As a freelance performer at the center of New York City’s contemporary classical scene, Ibrahim has worked with Amp Music, Either/Or, Fireworks Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, Manhattan Sinfonietta, PRISM Quartet, Red Light New Music, SEM Ensemble, and Wet Ink. His solo and chamber music performances have taken place in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, Miller Theater, Symphony Space, and the Kitchen. In NYC, Ibrahim gave the US Premiere of solo pieces such as Stockhausen’s Edentia, Boulez’s Dialogue de l’ombre double, and Robin Hoffmann’s Birkhahn-Studie for black grouse hunting call. Recently in Chicago, with the Anubis Saxophone Quartet and violist Nadia Sirota, he gave the US Premiere of Georges Aperghis’ Crosswind.

Ibrahim studied at the Manhattan School of Music, Bowling Green State University, the Université Européenne de Saxophone in France, the University of Calgary, and the University of Regina. His teachers include Paul Cohen, John Sampen, Claude Delangle, Marco Albonetti, Marcus Weiss, Jeremy Brown, Karen Finnsson, and Chris Jacklin. He has taught at Columbia University, the University of Calgary, and Mount Royal College, and is currently on faculty at West Virginia University, where he received the Outstanding Teaching Award for the School of Music in 2010.

In 2009, he published the book New Aesthetics in Contemporary Saxophone Music. His solo and chamber recordings appear on the Cala, Carrier, Mint, Newfangled, Omninova, and Teal Creek Music labels. He recently released his fourth solo album, Distances Within Me, with pianist Peter Amstutz. On Sunday mornings, Ibrahim hosts a classical radio show on U92FM in Morgantown. Ibrahim is a Conn-Selmer Artist and performs on Selmer saxophones. He is also a D’Addario Performing Artist and performs exclusively on Rico Reserve Classic saxophone reeds. In addition to his saxophone playing, Ibrahim also enjoys the great outdoors of West Virginia – in particular, trail running with his German shorthaired pointer Rex.


Zzyzx Quartet

Zzyzx-6

Stacy Wilson – West Point Academy Band

Stephen Page – University of Texas

Matt Evans – Roberts Wesleyan College

Dana Booher – United States Navy Band

 

“The Zzyzx Quartet, comprising soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone sax, exemplifies the happy development of the instrument in the excellence of their playing, the quality of their repertoire, and their synthesis as a quartet. Watching them is like watching a well-directed string section whose bows move in unison; the members of Zzyzx breathe simultaneously, their voices swelling together or seamlessly trading over an undulating sea of sound.” – Judyd Myers, City Arts Magazine NYC


Described as “a superb ensemble with impeccable musical taste” (The Saxophone Journal) the Zzyzx Quartet was formed in 2007.  As an ensemble, they have presented performances throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, as well as numerous masterclasses and workshops across the continental United States. Zzyzx is committed to the advancement of saxophone quartet repertoire and has commissioned and premiered new works by composers such as John Mackey, David Maslanka, David Rakowski, Ian Stewart, John Leszczynski, Erik Norman, Elliott Bark, Matthew Peterson, Sarah Gibson, Laura Kramer, and Jonathan Sokol.  In 2012, Zzyzx commissioned a new saxophone quartet by renowned American composer, John Mackey, which is featured on their newest critically acclaimed CD, “Intersections”, released in June 2013.  Zzyzx Quartet performed a featured concerto on the opening Gala Concert of the NASA Biennial Conference in Tempe, Arizona and was featured on a concert of up-and-coming young saxophonists from around the world at the World Saxophone Congress in St. Andrews, Scotland.  Most recently, they gave their New York City debut concert at Symphony Space in conjunction with the release of their newest CD.  Additionally, Zzyzx was selected to serve on the panel for the Barlow Endowment Prize in 2014 as one of three internationally recognized quartets.  They will be premiering the winning composer’s new composition in 2016.

Zzyzx won 2nd Prize in the inaugural North American Saxophone Alliance Quartet Competition in 2008. Additionally, ZQ was selected as one of the only American Chamber groups and the first American Saxophone Quartet to ever be invited to compete in the OSAKA International Chamber Music Competition in Japan.  They were honored as one of seven semi-finalists from 211 applicants from 29 countries in May 2011.  Each of the members have also been recognized as award-winning soloists, receiving top awards in prestigious national and international competitions including the Gaudeamus International Competition, William Byrd International Competition, North American Saxophone Alliance Competition, MTNA Young Artist Competition, Eastern Connecticut Symphony Competition, and the Carmel Music Society Instrumental Competition.  They have also received recognition as semi-finalists in the world’s most prestigious saxophone competitions including the Adolphe Sax International Competition, the Jean-Marie Londeix International Competition and the Aeolus International Competition. 

Dedicated to teaching, ZQ established the Zzyzx Educational Outreach Program in 2009 which has lead to numerous workshops, clinics and masterclasses at middle schools, high schools and universities throughout the United States.  The quartet’s debut CD, “Zzyzx Road”, was released in 2010 featuring world premiere recordings by Piet Swerts, John Leszczynski, and Erik Norman as well as works by Ida Gotkovsky and Thierry Escaich.  The album features a collaboration with their former professor at Indiana University, Otis Murphy, as a guest soloist on Gotkovsky’s Quatuor.  An article about ZQ was featured in Vol. 35 of the Saxophone Journal.  The quartet was invited to be on the only saxophone quartet on the roster for the New York Classical Music Society in 2013 based out of New York City. Zzyzx Quartet is a Yamaha Performing Artist, exclusively playing Yamaha Saxophones, and a D’Addario Performing Artist that endorses D’Addario Reserve Reeds.