Timothy McAllister and Liz Ames
Hailed by The New York Times as a “virtuoso…one of the foremost saxophonists of his generation”, “brilliant” (The Guardian, UK), and “a sterling saxophonist” (The Baltimore Sun), TIMOTHY McALLISTER is one of today’s premier soloists, a member of the renowned PRISM Quartet, and a champion of contemporary music credited with dozens of recordings and over 150 premieres of new compositions by eminent and emerging composers worldwide. His rise to international fame came in 2009 with his celebrated work in John Adams’s “City Noir,” filmed as part of Gustavo Dudamel’s inaugural concert as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the world premiere of John Adams’s Saxophone Concerto in August 2013 with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the composer in the Sydney Opera House. Subsequent critically-acclaimed U.S. premieres with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and St. Louis Symphony followed, along with engagements with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra at the London Proms, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the New World Symphony, among others.
McAllister has recently been soloist with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Elgin Symphony, Albany Symphony Orchestra, Reno Philharmonic, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Royal Band of the Belgian Air Force, United States Navy Band, Hong Kong Wind Philharmonia, Tokyo Wind Symphony, Pacific Symphony and the Nashville Symphony, among others. An in-demand orchestral saxophonist, he has toured in the U.S. and abroad with both the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, among many others.
A renowned teacher of his instrument, he has served as Professor of Saxophone at Northwestern University (IL), a Valade Artist Fellow for the Interlochen Center for the Arts (MI), and is a clinician for the Conn-Selmer and D’Addario companies. In September 2014 he joins the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Music, succeeding his legendary mentor, Donald Sinta. McAllister’s work can be heard on the Nonesuch, Deutsche Grammphon, Naxos, OMM, Stradivarius, Centaur, AUR, Albany, Parma, New Dynamic, Equilibrium, New Focus and innova record labels.
Liz Ames is passionate about collaborating with instrumentalists, vocalists and composers. As a pianist who specializes in performing with saxophonists, she has spent a lot of time and effort learning about the history of the saxophone and understanding the tendencies of both instrument and performer in order to coach young saxophonists. Liz often performs at saxophone conferences and competitions around the world including the Northern Arizona University Single Reed Symposium, North American Saxophone Alliance national and regional conferences, the 2012 World Saxophone Congress in St. Andrews, Scotland, and the 2015 World Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg, France.
As a part of Liz’s focus to promote the saxophone, she recently formed a consortium to commission a new piece by Gregory Wanamaker for alto saxophone and piano which will be premiered the fall of 2015. As part of this commission, she will be performing this new work in recitals with Wildy Zumwalt, Michael Ibrahim, Doug O’Connor, Jonathan Bergeron, and Stephen Page over the next year. In addition to finding ways to help create more new music for saxophonists, she has taken on writing piano reductions of saxophone concertos. With the limited availability of a full orchestra or ensemble, piano reductions allow saxophonists to study these works which are staples in the repertoire; thus allowing teachers to use these works as a way to teach technique and musical expression. Completed reductions include John Mackey’s Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Wind Ensemble, Concerto for Alto Saxophone an Orchestra by Henry Brant, and soon to be available – Steven Bryant’s Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble.
In addition to saxophone reductions, Liz has also written reductions for other instrumentation by Joel Puckett, Zivojin Glisic, Don Grantham , and Steven Bryant. Outside of her work with saxophonists, she performed at the International Double Reed Society Conference in 2012 and recently recorded three pieces by Chiel Meijering with bassoonist, Lynn Hileman. During her doctoral work, Liz performed the entire book of 114 Songs by Charles Ives in a series of four recitals. She has performed with the Music Institute of Chicago Chorale and was the pianist for the Scottsdale Choral Artists in Scottsdale, Arizona for three years. Liz also works frequently with young composers; collaborating with them on writing pieces involving piano in order to help them understand extended techniques, notation, and the physical limitations of a pianist.
Liz received her doctorate in collaborative piano from Arizona State University where she studied with Russell Ryan.
James Houlik and Vahan Sargsyan
James Houlik is the leading performer on his instrument in the world. His pioneering efforts on behalf of the tenor saxophone have resulted in the composition of more than eighty-five new concert works for the instrument, and important performances around the world. From the East Room of the White House, to solo appearances with orchestras in London, Prague, Istanbul, Berlin, Chicago, Phoenix, and New York, to recitals in the music capitals of the world, James Houlik has redefined the role of the tenor saxophone.
He has worked closely with many composers to foster the development of a repertoire for his previously neglected instrument. Among the more than 85 pieces composed for are concerti by Robert Ward, Morton Gould, David Ott, Sherwood Shaffer, Eric Ewazen, Walter S. Hartley, Russell Peck, Paul Harvey, Vache Sharafran, as well as dozens with band, piano, and in chamber settings.
Through the years, James Houlik has appeared in such major venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Town Hall in Toronto, The Smithsonian Institution, and London’s Barbican. He regularly visits university campuses throughout the United States as a performer and as a teacher of clinics and master classes.
His concerto performances have included those with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Grant Park Symphony, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Phoenix Symphony, the West Virginia Symphony, the San Remo Orchestra (Italy), the Istanbul Philharmonic, the North Carolina Symphony, the Chamber Orchestra of Milan, the New Art Philharmonic of Pretoria, South Africa, the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, the United States Navy Band, to mention a few.
With a combination of landmark performances and tireless efforts to build a repertoire for his instrument, Houlik has taken the tenor saxophone to unimagined heights. Moreover, audiences and critics alike have celebrated the remarkable artistic achievements which have placed James Houlik among the leading saxophonists of our time: “Houlik is a genuinely brilliant player” -New York Magazine.
James Houlik is Professor of Saxophone at the Duquesne University Mary Pappert School of Music. He is a Yamaha artist, performing on the Yamaha Custom EX tenor saxophone, a James Houlik mouthpiece, and Alexander Superial D.C. reeds.
Armenian pianist Vahan Sargsyan holds graduate and post graduate degrees from Yerevan Komitas State Conservatoire where he studied with Elza Tandilyan and his father, renowned pianist Villi Sargsyan. He was awarded Second Prize in the International Competition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and he was also winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society Auditions as a soloist and in two chamber music categories. Mr. Sargsyan has performed as soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and is regularly seen at the orchestra’s keyboards. He is staff pianist and chamber music coach at Carnegie Mellon University.
Praised by the Baltimore Sun for his “technical aplomb and keen expressive nuance,” saxophonist Sean Meyers performs as a soloist and collaborative artist across the Eastern U.S. and beyond. He has commissioned more than a dozen new compositions for saxophone, including the Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra by Andrew Boss, which he premiered and recorded in Baltimore in 2015.
Other world premieres include James Young’s Rainbow Shark for saxophone quartet, which was presented in collaboration with a multimedia art installation at the Maryland Institute College of Art. The composer and Sean’s saxophone quartet also presented the piece in a lecture recital at the Johns Hopkins University’s Meet the Musician: Today’s Classical Musician seminar and performed excerpts on the Academy Art Museum’s Music at Noon concert series in Easton, MD.
Sean’s repertoire also encompasses masterpieces by renowned composers ranging from Luciano Berio to William Bolcom. He has performed extensively in the Baltimore-D.C. area in both traditional and non-traditional venues.
Sean’s passion for making music exciting and accessible to everyone and his enthusiasm for new music and innovative concert experiences drives much of his work as a performer and educator. Working with the Creative Access at the Peabody Conservatory, he organized and performed concerts for patients at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and seniors at the Basilica Place Senior Living Community. A co-founder of Baltimore-based chamber orchestra Symphony Number One, he has fueled the orchestra’s mission to develop close working relationships with young and emerging composers, give new works multiple hearings, produce substantial recordings of new works, and create innovative musical programs for the community.
Sean holds degrees in Saxophone Performance and Music Education at the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University where he studied saxophone with Gary Louie and conducting with Harlan D. Parker. Sean is continuing his studies with world-renown saxophonist Timothy McAllisterat the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.
Matt Landry, Akropolis Quintet
Matt began his music career gigging and teaching as a pianist. He took up the clarinet after piano, and finally the saxophone in middle school. Born in New Orleans before moving to Michigan, Matt dabbles in and appreciates many musical styles.
Matt has been featured on several concerts with Orchestra Canton, including Milhaud’s La Création du Monde, which he also performed in Portland, OR with eminent chamber musicians including Jennifer Frautschi and Tara Helen O’Connor, and he has performed Bernstein’s On the Town with the Dearborn Symphony. He also appears regularly with the Michigan Philharmonic. As well as Akropolis’ three studio albums, he can be heard on two CDs produced by the UM Symphony Band under the Equilibrium Records label, Raise the Roof and Classic Structures. Matt received his Bachelors degree Summa Cum Laude in Music Education and Saxophone from the University of Michigan, where he studied with Donald Sinta.
Matt is an avid educator and community engagement specialist. He was a full-time piano teacher at the Expressions Music Academy in Novi, MI where he was also Director of Marketing and Outreach, connecting Expressions to neighborhood businesses, schools, and families. Presently he works for the Detroit Regional Chamber as an outreach specialist to small businesses in Detroit and the Detroit metro area.
Matt has also taught middle school band and elementary music full time and he has helped create after-school music programs in west Detroit. Matt also interned at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in Neighborhood Audience Development. He is now the Executive Director of Akropolis’ nonprofit, Akropolis Quintet Inc.
In his spare time he enjoys writing, reading, collecting more pianos than his small home has room for, running even though his knees won’t allow it, and trying to emulate the southern cooking styles of his extended southern family.