The Orion Saxophone Quartet
Los Angeles- On Friday, October 22, the California State University, Los Angeles Department of Music Faculty-Artist Series will feature The Orion Saxophone Quartet in a concert at 8:00 p.m. in the Music Hall on the Cal State L.A. campus. This concert will feature music that spans Baroque to modern, from composers such as J.S. Bach, Claude Debussy, Jean Rivier and Steve Reich. Founded in 1989, the Orion Saxophone Quartet is one of the leading classical saxophone quartets on the West Coast. Its members are prominent members of the educational community and are active freelance musicians in the Los Angeles area.
The group features Jeff Benedict, soprano; Adrian Williams, alto; Jill Geist, tenor; and Charlie Richard, baritone. The quartet has been featured at the Pacific Contemporary Music Center Festival, and has performed numerous concerts, including performances at the Tanglewood Institute and at regional conventions of the North American Saxophone Alliance.
Locally, the quartet has performed recently at the Long Beach Universalist Unitarian Church, Biola University, Riverside Community College, the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, East Los Angeles College and at California State University, San Bernardino. The quartet has recently recorded a CD, which will be released on the Centaur Records label in late 1999. Cal State L.A. is located just east of downtown L.A. at the Eastern Ave. exit on the San Bernardino Freeway. Tickets are $15.00 general, and $5.00 for students and seniors.
For further information, call the Department of Music at Cal State L.A., (323) 343-4060.
Jeff Benedict, founding member of the Orion Saxophone Quartet, holds a B.M. and an M.A. from the Lamont School of Music and a D.M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a student of Harvey Pittel. He has been the winner of four "deebee" awards from Downbeat magazine, one each for Classical Performance and Jazz Composition, and two for Jazz Performance. He is in demand as a classical soloist, and has premiered new works for the saxophone including the world premiere of Peter Terry's Into Light for saxophone, chamber orchestra and computer-generated tape, and the mid-west premiere of David Amram's Ode to Lord Buckley for saxophone and orchestra. As a member of the ensemble, he has performed with the Aspen Festival Orchestra, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group. His credits as a jazz performer include appearances with Toshiko Akiyoshi, Randy Brecker, Nick Brignola, Eddie Daniels, Carl Fontana, Curtis Fuller, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Hubert Laws, Wynton Marsalis, Bob Mintzer, Claudio Roditi, Diane Schuur, Lew Soloff, Billy Taylor, Mel Torme, Bill Watrous, Mark Whitfield and Joe Williams. He is currently on the faculty at California State University, Los Angeles, where he is the saxophone instructor and director of jazz studies. He has released two jazz albums on the Resurgent Music record label: Castle Creek Shuffle and Standard Fare.
Charlie Richard, also one of the group's founding members, is a frequent performer in the Los Angeles area. He has appeared with the Redlands Symphony, the Riverside Civic Light Opera, Dinah Shore, the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, the Mark Masters' Jazz Composers Orchestra of Los Angeles and the Kevin Mayse Big Band. A graduate of California State University, Los Angeles, where he received both Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts degrees, he has studied saxophone with Harvey Pittel, Anthony Desiderio and Vito Susca. His compositions are published by the UNC Jazz Press, and he has been the recipient of a "deebee" award from Downbeat magazine for Best Original Extended Composition. Charlie is currently co-chair of the Riverside Community College Music Department, where he also teaches studio saxophone and directs the jazz ensembles.
Jill Geist has been a member of the Orion Saxophone Quartet since 1993. A student of Roger Greenberg, she holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Northern Colorado. She has had experience as both an orchestral and a jazz saxophonist, and is an active freelance musician in the Los Angeles area. She has performed with artists such as Peter Erskine, Clark Terry, Billy Eckstein, J.J. Johnson, Bob Mintzer, Rob McConnell, Rich Matteson and Bobby Shew. She is also a committed educator, and is a frequent adjudicator for the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association. She is music director at Pioneer Junior High School, where she directs one of the most successful junior high school jazz ensembles in the nation.
Adrian Williams is the most recent addition to the quartet, having joined in 1994. A student of Charlie Richard at Riverside Community College, he is one of Southern California's most outstanding young saxophonists. He has been the recipient of awards from the Riverside Community College Music Department, the Cal State L.A. Jazz Festival, the Music Association of California Community Colleges and the John Philip Sousa Honor Band, and was awarded a scholarship to study with Harvey Pittel at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.
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