Michael Cox, a Cameron University alumnus, will join the CU Concert Band and Fort Sill’s 77th Army Band for “Saxophone Spotlight” on Thursday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m. in the University Theatre. The concert is open to the public at no charge. To reserve tickets, call the CU Department of Art, Music and Theatre Arts at 580-581-2346.
Cox, a 1983 CU graduate, is a professor of saxophone and jazz studies at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He also performs with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, the Columbus, Lancaster, and Newark Symphony Orchestras, the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra, and a diversity of groups including the Ellington Repertory Chamber Ensemble, Such Sweet Thunder, the Black Swamp Saxophone Quartet, the Powerhouse Trio, and the jazz/fusion/funk band known as Flippo.
“When I discovered Dr. Cox was a graduate of Cameron, it was a mission of mine to bring him back to campus,” says Dr. Lucas Kaspar, assistant professor and conductor of the CU Concert Band. “Dr. Cox was born and raised in Lawton and is a great representative of Cameron’s music program. When I pitched the idea of featuring him to Warrant Officer 1 Martin Johnston, director of the 77th Army Band, he loved it! He came up with the idea of presenting a concert in which every piece features the saxophone.”
Cox will join the CU Concert Band and the 77th Army Band for three solos, the first of which, “Serenade for Alto Saxophone and Band” was composed by Frank Bencriscutto in 1960 and has become a standard of the saxophone repertoire. Bencriscutto said of the piece that it “is written to take advantage of the saxophone’s technical grace and warm lyricism.”
The next second selection will be David Jex’s “Concerto For Alto Saxophone: Sweet Sorrows,” a one-movement concerto which was premiered by Lyn Klock and the Virginia Wind Symphony. Jex dedicated “Sweet Sorrows” to the loss of several friends, colleagues and family members, referring to the composition as “a deeply emotive work, it begins in reflection and sorrow before introducing a new theme at a moderate tempo. This new theme begins to transform the work into a celebration of life, strength and vitality.”
Cox will conclude his solo appearance with his composition, “1898 Hymn.” He will perform this piece on tenor saxophone and will demonstrate his jazz and improvisational skills. Cox dedicated “1898 Hymn” to his late grandmother, Janie Sanmann, who was born in 1898.
Other saxophonists who will perform solos are Dr. J.D. Little, Assistant Professor of Woodwinds and Director of Jazz Ensembles at CU; Sgt. Daniel Rogers of the 77th Army Band; and CU concurrent student Hunter Helvey, a senior at MacArthur High School. Little will perform Berhard Heiden’s “Diversion for Alto Saxophone and Band,” Rogers will be featured on Mark Watter’s “Rhapsody for Baritone Saxophone and Wind Orchestra” and Helvey will perform Pedro Itturalde’s “Pequena Czarda for Alto Saxophone.”
The concert will come conclude with Cox, Little, Rogers and Helvey combining for Thomas Doss’s “Spotlights for Saxophone Quartet and Band.” This virtuosic piece for saxophone quartet will feature every member of the saxophone family: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, and baritone saxophone.
The Cameron University Concert Band, composed of Cameron students, performs at numerous events throughout the academic year. The ensemble is open to music majors, minors and non-music students.