Over 100 Years of Women and the Saxophone
This recital will celebrate over 100 years of women and the saxophone. It will include a world premiere of a commissioned work for Amy Green by English saxophonist and composer Charlotte Harding.
Charlotte Harding (b.1989) graduated from the Royal College of Music (won the Queen Elizabeth Rosebowl) studying composition with Mark Anthony Turnage and saxophone with Martin Robertson (previously studied with Richard Ingham). She has written numerous works for saxophone including ‘Voyage; A Concerto for Soprano Saxophone’, which has been performed by eminent saxophonists around the world. A Masters graduate from the RCM, UK, Amy Green received the Tagore Gold Medal & won the Senior Woodwind Prize & Melber Saxophone Prize. She also studied at the CNSMDP & performed at such venues as the Royal Festival Hall, Cadogan Hall & the Royal Albert Hall. Amy played in the BBC Proms with the London Sinfonietta, toured with the EUYO & performed with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
When researching the history of the saxophone, we were delighted to discover how integral women have been in developing, pioneering and promoting the saxophone as an instrument capable of crossing all stylistic boundaries whilst exhibiting the highest levels of virtuosic technique and musicality. From Bessie Meeklens performing the first known recording of the saxophone, to Etta Morgan, thought to be the ‘only lady saxophone player in the world’ in 1876 to the female ensembles, soloists and band leaders of the early 20th Century such as the Darling Saxophone Four, Schuster Sisters and Ivy Benson, these women paved the way for many generations of saxophonists to come with their professional approach, business acumen and musical enthusiasm. We felt these incredible musicians and composers deserve to be celebrated and their achievements highlighted to audiences of today. The recital will be a collection of new works, transcriptions and arrangements inspired by the repertoire of these female saxophonists of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, concluding with the world premiere of a new work by Charlotte Harding. The recital programme will be in chronological order, starting with a work that would have first been performed by Etta Morgan at a concert on January 1876 in New York, thought to be the introduction of the saxophone soloist to the American public. This is then followed by a recreation of Bessie Meeklen’s 1892 original saxophone recording of ‘Ave Maria’. We then feature the female American Brass Bands of the early 20th Century, highlighting the popular and politically important works of Helen May Butler. This is followed by a work by 1940s band leader Ivy Benson, with Charlotte having a personal affiliation with her Yorkshire roots! We will create a special arrangement of her wonderfully titled hit, ‘Not So Quiet, Please!’ The recital is concluded with the world premiere of Charlotte Harding’s new work. We wish to present a small pre-concert talk before the recital, to disseminate our research to date as well as inviting the saxophone community to be actively involved with the further research, a concert series and educational programme we hope to develop after the congress. We hope to research and uncover more about these important musical figures by consulting with music professors, lecturers, relatives and music historians from around the world and would hope to engage the congress audiences and delegates in our research. We will establish an online blog, website and social media pages to make this research as interactive as wide-reaching as possible. We would hope that by launching this project at the congress it could bring attention to the important role that women have played in developing the saxophone and its repertoire and in turn, celebrate the saxophone’s incredible inclusivity and diversity as an instrument.