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FREE Lunchtime Concert: ANCIA Saxophone Quartet

Friday, February 23, 12:00PM

Westminster Hall at Westminster Presbyterian Church

Hosted by composer Abbie Betinis, our popular Courtroom Concerts take place at noon most Thursdays in the Landmark Center in downtown Saint Paul. This series features accomplished musicians and composers from the Twin Cities and surrounding area, as well as occasional musical newcomers to the area. These one-hour concerts are free and open to the public.

This year, Schubert Club will partner with Westminster Hall to bring selected Courtroom Concerts across the river to Minneapolis. Select Courtroom Concerts will receive repeat Friday performances at Westminster Hall; these concerts will also be free and open to the public.

About the Artists:
When four world class Saxophone performers become friends and form a quartet, you have an explosion of energy, joy and deeply wonderful music-making – you have Ancia! – Libby Larsen

Hailed by Chamber Music America as an ensemble which “approaches the commissioning and performing of new works as a special mission,” the Ancia Quartet (AHN-chee-uh) has been dedicated to expanding the saxophone repertoire for over thirty years. The quartet has shared its passion for new music with a diverse range of audiences around the world through performances filled with “energy, precision, and huge dynamic range” (Eugene Rousseau). The group’s unique ability to “create exquisite musical interpretations” have drawn commissions from an impressive array of contemporary composers, including such luminaries as Grammy Award-winner Libby Larsen, Pulitzer Prize- and two-time Grammy-winner Jennifer Higdon, and Pulitzer Prize-finalist Lei Liang.

Ancia places a high value on the “deeply collaborative” (CMA) nature of the commissioning process. The quartet received a grant through the Alice M. Ditson Fund to complete their new CD, Confluence, now available on Albany Records. Confluence features the premier recording of Libby Larsen’s work of the same name commissioned by the quartet in 2015 and inspired by a shared concern for the environment. The quartet premiered the four-movement work, which depicts four endangered waterways from around the world, at the SaxOpen (World Saxophone Congress XVII) in Strasbourg, France later that year. To celebrate and discuss this exciting new work and its environmental theme, Ancia was featured live on Performance Today for a special Earth Day broadcast on National Public Radio. The CD will also feature works by Rutkowski, Ricker, Piazzolla, and Dodgion.

The group has continued to engage in collaborations with innovative composers and performers, most recently leading a consortium commission of a new work by Chris Rutkowski entitled “Changes.” Ancia has also worked closely alongside provocative Israeli composer Yehuda Yannay to push the members’ boundaries as saxophonists and musicians in his new composition, “The Center Does Not Hold.” Renowned “BEATBoX SAX” artist Derek Brown spoke fondly of his recent performance with the quartet, calling them “a top-tier ensemble with an incredible range of playing styles and emotions.”

Ancia takes its role as ambassadors of new music seriously, not solely through the commissioning of new works, but through performances of the most captivating existing repertoire. The ensemble particularly enjoys showcasing concertos – a genre often overlooked by saxophone quartets – by some of the most influential composers of our time, including Philip Glass (Concerto for Saxophone Quartet, with the Wayzata Symphony Orchestra) and William Bolcom (Concerto Grosso, with the Bloomington Symphony). Although the quartet’s mission privileges the creation and dissemination of new music, Ancia thoroughly enjoys transporting audiences across time and genre. The group expertly performs repertoire spanning centuries and styles, with programs as likely to include arrangements of 12th-century German mystic Hildegard von Bingen as those of jazz legend Duke Ellington.