The Ferio Saxophone Quartet perform ‘Best of British’ on Sunday 23 April at 3.00pm at St John’s Smith Square, London, as part of their St John’s Young Artists’ Scheme Award. Featuring works by Edward Elgar, Gary Carpenter, Michael Nyman and Will Gregory, their programme opens with William Byrd’s Ave Verum Coprus, considered by many to be Byrd’s finest work.
‘Best of British’ also features two world premieres: ‘The Wordsworth Poems‘, written for the quartet by the Dutch composer Guillermo Lago and ‘Close Shave’ by the renowned violist, composer and music editor, Simon Rowland-Jones.
Following Guillermo Lago’s visit to London in July 2015 to work with Ferio on his series of pieces ‘Ciudades‘, they commissioned him to write a new piece for them. At the time of the request Lago had just finished two works inspired by poems by Gustavo Becquer and Neza Maurer respectively. He says:
“I really wanted to use poetry again as a source of inspiration, so I invited Ferio to come up with poetry that was dear to them in order to make this new work something not only close to my heart but also to theirs. They selected the famous ‘Composed on Westminster Bridge’ by William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850); I then added two more poems, ‘With ships the sea was sprinkled far and nigh’ and ‘Composed during a Storm’, which form a wonderful trio and a perfect lead for musical development.”
The Wordsworth Poems will also feature on the quartet’s debut CD for Chandos records, which comes out in July.
After first hearing the Ferio Saxophone Quartet at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London and then at North Norfolk Music Festival last summer, Simon Rowland-Jones says:
“I was enthralled by their virtuosity, musicality and richness of sound. Soon after, Ferio asked me to write a piece for them – a very new venture for me, having composed mostly string quartets and string quintets.
‘Close Shave’ takes as its starting point the kind of close harmony textures found in barber-shop quartets as a brief, flirtatious entrée into the work, out of which my own music evolves: depicting four highly alert saxophone players catching each other and reacting to each other in some pretty hair-raising situations. The work concludes at full force in the key of C major, a rounding off after the work’s demanding activity.”
Pianist Timothy End joins the Ferio Saxophone Quartet for the final concert of their St. John’s series on Thursday 11 May at 7.30pm. Together they perform the Shostakovich Jazz Suite No. 2 (arranged for this formation by James Sherlock) and Pedro Iturralde’s Memorias.
The Ferio Saxophone Quartet has been thrilled to be accepted as St John’s Smith Square Young Artists for the 2016/17 season. Having the opportunity to unleash and demonstrate the full capabilities of the saxophone quartet in such a beautiful venue is very exciting for them. Passionate about expanding the saxophone quartet repertoire, they have been able to work with new composers and premiere their works in a truly great concert hall with the added, invaluable support of the SJSS Young Artists’ Scheme.