New Directions in Saxophone Quartet Music

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The h2 quartet offers to premiere two new works for saxophone quartet especially commissioned for SaxOpen by American composer Forrest Pierce and Swiss composer Antoine Fachard.


Declared “an ensemble to watch for years to come” by the American Record Guide, the award-winning h2 quartet has been wowing audiences since 2002. h2 has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, and is an ensemble-in-residence for the Cortona Sessions for New Music in Italy. h2 also hosts the Great Plains Saxophone Workshop during the summer months. h2 is dedicated to commissioning and performing compelling new works for saxophone quartet, and operates as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The ensemble has released four critically-acclaimed recordings and has been featured on NPR and PBS programs. h2 quartet has won first prizes at the Fischoff Competition and the NASA Quartet Competition, among others. The h2 quartet is a Vandoren Performing Artist Ensemble.

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The h2 quartet proposes an opportunity to premiere two new works for saxophone quartet by American composer Forrest Pierce and Swiss composer Antoine Fachard. These new works were commissioned especially for the World Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg. The h2 quartet developed a relationship with both Pierce and Fachard through the Cortona Sessions for New Music in Cortona, Italy. Though both composers are very talented, their musical language could not be more different. Forrest Pierce, currently on the music composition faculty at the University of Kansas, is creating a new work that reflects upon the openness of the American Great Plains region, where the h2 quartet currently resides. The work, though technically very challenging, draws upon traditional harmonic language with interesting melodic writing. Fachard, who is in the forefront of compelling trends in new music, is creating a work that explores the idiomatic properties of the saxophone. Fachard’s previous work for saxophone quartet, titled Chorale Variations, subtly draws upon a chorale by JS Bach, which is modified and recreated through the use of integrated multiphonics, microtonal fluctuations, and augmented rhythmic values.

Forrest Pierce composes genre-defying music steeped in Sufi mysticism and contemporary virtuosity. Sincere, often triadic, and blatantly tuneful, it draws on both non-western and rock-era traditions to depict an authentic world of sacred unity and natural beauty. Pierce is the past resident composer of the Seattle New Music Ensemble and the founding artistic director of Portland’s Friends of Rain Contemporary Ensemble. His catalog is led by over 50 works for voices, including operatic, choral, and solo vocal forces. Upcoming works include settings of the Shir Hashirim for the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, and a Sufi ritual on texts of Rabi’a for the choirs of Mt. Holyoke College. Pierce teaches on the faculty of the University of Kansas School of Music, and was educated at the University of Puget Sound, the University of Minnesota, and Indiana University.

Born in Albany, New York, of a Greek mother and Swiss father, Antoine Fachard grew up in Lausanne, Switzerland. He obtained his Certificat Supérieur de piano and Certificat de trompette at the Conservatory of Lausanne as well as a Master in French literature and ancient Greek from the University of Lausanne. Having decided to dedicate himself entirely to music, and more precisely, to composition, he completed a Master in Composition and Theory in 2013 at the Haute École de Berne under the organist and composer Daniel Glaus. In 2013, he was awarded with the first prize in the Concours International de Composition de la Fondation Marcelle de Lacour.