David Maslanka (1943-2017)

We were extremely saddened to hear of the death of David Maslanka on August 6th 2017. As a composer he championed the saxophone, writing some spectacularly beautiful music for the saxophone in many settings. He is a firm favourite composer for the Laefer Quartet and we were delighted to recently perform his Recitation Book in our St. George's Beckenham recital, and would like to share with you the fourth movement, 'Meditation on the Gregorian Chant O Salutaris Hostia (O Salvation’s Victim)'.

Listenpony EP Launch, PLG & Nonclassical


Live at Listenpony EP

Last week saw the launch of our debut EP recorded live at our Listenpony concert! For those of you who missed it this is a great chance for you to catch up, for all those lucky enough to make it why not relive the fun!

We would like to say a massive thank you to Listenpony for making this happen!

Live at Listenpony: Laefer Quartet - EP is available to download from iTunes here.


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PLG @ SJSS

Thank you to everyone who came along to St John's Smith Square for our Park Lane Group Young Artists recital.

We had a fantastic evening and loved sharing two great world premieres with you. We are immensely grateful to both Giles Swayne and Charlotte Harding for writing us such fantastic pieces. If you weren't able to join us have a look at the pictures below and read a review of the concert here, but more importantly keep an eye on our upcoming Concerts for an opportunity to hear these great pieces soon.



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NYC comes to London

Last week was a busy week for us, not only did we launch our EP but we also had a great time bringing a little bit of New York City to the Victoria, Dalston at the latest Nonclassical concert. Curated by the super talented Charlotte Harding we performed a programme of New York inspired works consisting of Steve Reich's New York Counterpoint and Charlotte's Sub to Street, to Scraping the Sky, alongside the amazing Guastalla Quartet and a video performance from James Larter. Pictures from the event can be seen below.


Sorry its been a while, we've been quite busy..!

Sorry it has been a while Laefer Fans! We've had a busy few months! Those of you who avidly follow us on the Twittersphere will know what we've been up to but for those of you who don't here is a brief summary:

  • We reached the final of the Royal Overseas League Competition where we were awarded the Elias Fawcett Award for Outstanding Ensemble.
  • Following on from our concert in November, we've been working with Listenpony to create a live EP from the concert! Artwork and Recordings are now mastered, so watch here for the release date! If you can't wait that long here is a video of us from the concert.

 

  • We're excited to announce that we will be performing in the next NonClassical concert on May 10th curated by composer and saxophonist Charlotte Harding. The concert is New York themed and we will be playing Steve Reich's New York Counterpoint as well as a piece by Charlotte written for our Park Lane Group Concert (see below) called Sub to Street, to Scraping the Sky.
  • And last but by no means the least of our endeavours has been preparing for our St John's Smith Square recital on Monday 24th April as part of the Park Lane Group Young Artists Spring Series 2017. If you can't wait until May 10th to hear Charlotte Harding's piece then why not come to the World Premiere! We're also very excited to be giving the World Premiere of Leapfrog by distinguished British composer Giles Swayne, alongside Richard Rodney Bennett's Saxophone Quartet and Felix Mendelssohn's Capriccio.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from us here at the Laefer Quartet! 2016 was an amazing year for the Laefer Quartet and we would like to say a massive thank you to all of our friends and fans for making it so!

 

Some highlights include:

  • Performing at the International Womens Day at the RCM.
  • Giving a Masterclass and recital at the University of Southampton.
  • Recording at the Abbey Road Institute.
  • Being selected as Park Lane Group Artists for the 2016/17 season.
  • Giving three world premieres as part of the fantastic Listenpony concert series.
  • Performing at the Abstract Expressionism exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts with another world premiere.
  • Numerous concerts up and down the country which we have been thrilled to give!

It's still early days but 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year too: look out for our Park Lane Group concerts at St. John's Smith Square (featuring World Premieres by Giles Swayne and Charlotte Harding) and St. Margaret's Church, Westminster.

Working on World Premieres

Between now and Christmas we are excited to be presenting four world premieres; three as part of the Listenpony concert series, and one at the Royal Academy of Arts in their In Tune with Abstract Expressionism event. 

With the Listenpony concert coming up next week we have been spending a lot of time learning the three new works by Emre Sihan Kaleli, Erica Telisnor, and William Marsey. All three works have been commissioned for the quartet by the Listenpony concert series and written specifically for us. Playing new music is always a fantastic experience for the quartet as it draws upon a different skill set to playing standard repertoire. The music comes to each of us without any preconceived notions of how it should sound; there are no other artists' interpretations to compare and contrast with, and no history of performance practice behind the work. As an ensemble it enables you to experiment with the works in a completely free way, and discovering and unwrapping the music is often great fun and really rewarding.

One of the advantages of playing new works is having the composers there to talk to, which really help with the whole "knowing the composers intention" thing that performers strive to achieve! In our rehearsal today William Marsey joined us and it was great to be able to have his input and to give feedback to him on the work. It's a really valuable tool for both us as performers and (I hope) composers, as it enables us both to really clarify how the piece works for our quartet. The three pieces are really contrasting in styles and it should make for a fantastic concert paired with three more established pieces of our repertoire.

With the commission for the Royal Academy of Arts concert we actually met with the composer, Andrew Chen, last week before he began writing the work to discuss the different ideas he had, how we play, and what music we like playing. In the meeting Andrew said he wanted to take the time to get to know us so he could write us a work we would want to play again and its great to be able to work so closely with composers to help create new works for our instrument.

Laefer Quartet in the Studio

We've had a busy few months here in the Laefer Quartet with performances at Lincoln's Inn Chapel, St Boniface Concert Society, and several private functions. On top of this we were lucky enough to be invited to record with Chris Cook at the Abbey Road Institute. Chris is currently studying at the Institute and asked us to record some tracks for his portfolio and we were happy to oblige!

We decided to record Eugene Bozza's Andate et Scherzo and the Capriccio from Felix Mendelssohn's Four Pieces for String Quartet Op. 81 keeping one live take of each and mixing a final take as well. As it was the first time in the studio as a quartet we were pretty excited to see what the outcome would be, especially as our busy individual schedules meant that we only had one evening to do all the recording! A week later Rusne, Amy and I went back to the studio to go through the takes and sort out the final mix with Chris.

Below are some pictures from the session and we hope to have the recordings up soon.

 

Stephen

University of Southampton Masterclass: Part 2

We were invited by Dr Angela Space to give a recital and masterclass for her saxophone students at the University of Southampton which took place on Sunday 15th May. Every year Angela gathers together students, past and present, and invites a guest artist to give a class. Angela contacted our Baritone player, Stephen, himself a former student, to ask if the Laefer Quartet would be available to give the class and we were delighted to say yes!

After driving down from London we arrived at the Turner Sims Concert Hall where the event was being held and had a warm up and a spot of lunch. We began by giving a short recital where we performed the first two movements of Ravels' String Quartet in F Major and Theirry Escaich's Tango Virtuoso to showcase the variety of repertoire we play, as well as our love of transcriptions.

We then took it in turns to work with some of the students on pieces they have been preparing for their upcoming end of year recitals. Rusne worked with 3rd year Student, Wayne, on Barry Cockroft's Kuku going into depth on the technical aspects of the piece, including the tricky multiphonic section towards the end. Amy worked with another 3rd year student, Emily, on the third movement of the Dubois Concerto and emphasised the importance of a solid, consistent air-stream as the basis for all playing. Philip continued this theme whilst working on the Villos-Lobos Fantasia with 2nd year, Ali, demonstrating how a good air-stream, good articulation, and good finger faculty can all be practised with scale practice. 3rd year student Lawrence performed the Tansman Sonatine and Stephen discussed some of the challenges faced when playing transcriptions, and shared some thoughts on vibrato.

We were then treated to all four students playing as the Momentum Quartet, with an impressive performance of the fifth movement of Maslanka's Recitation Book, a fantastic piece with two opposing characters, one choral like and one fast and scalic, which all members of the Laefer Quartet suggested improvements for.

Afterwards we relaxed in the foyer of the Tuner Sims Concert Hall, ate pizza, and talked all things saxophone! We would like to thank Angela for inviting us, Karen for accompanying, and all the students for playing so well!

Park Lane Group 2016/17

It's with great pleasure that we can announce the Laefer Quartet have been selected as Park Lane Group Artists for the 2016/17 series. We will be performing a varied programme at St. John's Smith Square including two world premières by Charlotte Harding and Giles Swayne who we are very much looking forward to working with.

More details will follow nearer the time, watch this space!

Over 100 Years of Women and the Saxophone

As part of International Women's day the Laefer Quartet are involved with a project at the Royal College of Music entitled Women in Music. Our Soprano player, Amy Green, developed the project 100 Years of Women and the Saxophone with composer/saxophonist Charlotte Harding for the 2015 World Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg.

The project celebrates the often overlooked role women have played in the development of our fantastic instrument; including the first ever recording of a saxophone, the commissioning of key works in the repertoire, and the all female dance bands of the swing era!

We will be performing an arrangement Charlotte Harding did for us of Cosmopolitan American March by Helen-May Butler in the 6:00pm evening concert, come along to find out more!

http://rcm.ac.uk/events/listings/details/?id=836098

New Website

Merry Christmas everyone!

The Laefer Quartet would like to give you all an early Christmas present in the form of our new website! We're very excited to finally have it up and running after months in the planning; we would love to know what you think of it! 

Why not share it with your friends and like our Facebook and Twitter pages for even more Laefer Quartet fun?!

Welcome!

The Laefer Quartet are very excited to welcome two new members, Philip Attard and Rusne Mikiskaite! Philip joins us on the Tenor chair and Rusne on the Alto.

Philip is no stranger to the quartet, having studied at the RCM at the same time as the group, and having played in the Green-Attard duo with our Soprano player, Amy. Rusne has recently moved to the UK from the Netherlands and we are excited to welcome them both to the group.

The Forge

The Laefer Quartet has been very busy recently building up to our recent recital at The Forge in Camden. Not only was it a fantastic opportunity to play at a great venue but it was a chance for us to perform two world premières! 

The first, 'Dapple' was written by prize winning composer Ed Scolding. Ed described his short work like "having a blank object in the middle of a room and you're throwing paint at it from all angles. At first you're not sure what the object is however as more 'paint' is thrown the nature of the object is revealed"

The second work, by Alexander Glyde- Bates, was commissioned by the Laefer Quartet. 'AGB' (as he is colloquially known!) is a good friend of our Baritone player, Stephen, from their time together at Southampton University. The work, entitled 'Restoration', is based upon the idea of a work of art. Over time the work falls into disrepair and its image becomes obscured, it is then restored and the picture becomes clear, before time takes its toll and it falls into disrepair again. Alex applied this idea to a well known piece of classical music, taking it from it's state of disrepair, to full glory and then decomposing it again. See how quickly you can recognise the piece!

Recordings of both the works can be found on our 'Recordings' page.

Boconnoc Music Award

As recipients of the 2014 Boconnoc Music Award the we were delighted to spend a week with the Fortescue family at the wonderful Boconnoc Estate in Cornwall. As a quartet we had an amazing experience there and thoroughly enjoyed working and staying in such a stunning location. Set in acres of grounds (including a deer park!) the Boconnoc Estate provided us with a much needed getaway from London and allowed us to focus musically in peaceful surroundings, as well as spend valuable time together.

With three concerts spaced throughout the week there was the perfect balance between time to rehearse and time to relax. Having the ability to concentrate entirely on making music together without the normal distractions of College/London life made for even more enjoyable and productive rehearsals and we were really able to grow as an ensemble. The two venues (the drawing room in the house where we performed on Tuesday and Thursday, and the Church on Friday) were both intimate and beautiful, and were a pleasure to perform in. After the house concerts we were provided with the opportunity to meet the guests over dinner, giving us a chance to get to know them, and to discuss what they liked and enjoyed about the concerts.

Aside from the musical benefits the week also provided many social highlights. The Fortescue family were delightful hosts and it was lovely to spend time with them. The location was breath-taking and it was great to spend time in such a beautiful part of the country. The Quartet would like to express its sincere thanks to the Fortescue Family for providing us with this incredible week, and the Royal College of Music for presenting us with the Boconnoc Music Award.