Kenari Saxophone Quartet Outreach at Ronald Reagan High School on November 15, 2021
Monday, November 15, 2021, turned out to be a remarkable day for all who participated in the Outreach event set up by SACMS at Ronald Reagan High School. At what seemed like the crack of dawn, 7:45am, we were greeted by Reagan HS Band Director Greg White who told us that his students may be a bit bleary-eyed that morning because they had all just returned home the night before from a long trip to Indianapolis, IN, for the Band of America Grand National Championship competition. A little background about the Reagan Band – they are consistently ranked in the top ten in the nation. Their trophies and award banners lined the walls of the band hall.
Reagan HS is also home to an award-winning saxophone quartet named “Quid Nunc”. The Kenari Quartet decided to start off their Outreach at Reagan with a masterclass for the current incarnation of Quid Nunc, made up of 3 seniors and one junior this year. The student ensemble dove fearlessly into their very well-rehearsed rendition of “Mountain Roads” by American composer David Maslanka – a very challenging work which, by happy coincidence, was also on the Kenari Quartet’s Sunday concert program at Temple Beth-El.
The four professionals then took turns coaching the students on the many fine points of making the best music on their individual instruments – how to match each other’s sound and intonation, how to stay connected to one another, how to be supportive of each other, how to move together, and how to bring the music to life, engaging the audience. The students were eager and quick to respond – as was evident in their second attempt of the same piece – marked improvements were immediately noticeable.
8:50am – The Kenari Quartet– Bob Eason (soprano sax), Kyle Baldwin (alto sax), Cory Dundee (tenor sax), and Steven Banks (baritone sax) – performed excerpts from their Sunday concert program for a rapt audience of about 50 Reagan Band members. A special thrill was perceptible when these long-admired artists played “Mountain Roads” in their exemplary fashion – fully illustrating how a unified soundscape can engulf the listener. A brief Q & A session followed and when the question of natural vs synthetic reeds came up, it was impressed upon the students that what is paramount is the quality of sound one should always be listening for and striving to achieve.
At the conclusion of this Outreach event – the last student to leave the band hall gave me a thumbs-up and said, “That was fantastic! Thank you!”
It was indeed a remarkable day!
Submitted by Pauline Glickman