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ASU saxophone ensemble has banner year at national chamber music competitions

Seyon Quartet

Seyon Saxophone Quartet

June 07, 2019

Seyon Saxophone Quartet, a chamber music ensemble composed of Arizona State University School of Music students, won first and second prizes at two prominent national chamber music competitions during the spring 2019 semester.

The quartet, whose programs present traditional western music balanced with edgy contemporary voices, includes two undergraduate junior year students and two graduate students: Dylan Hong on soprano saxophone (Bachelor of Music in performance); Nathan Salazar on alto saxophone (Bachelor of Music in performance and Barrett, The Honors College student); Patrick Feher on tenor saxophone (Master of Musical Arts in performance); and Kristen Zelenak on baritone saxophone (Doctor of Musical Arts in performance).

The students won first prize in the sixth annual Coltman Chamber Music Competition at the University of Texas, Austin in the mixed instrumental ensemble division. The Coltman Competition provides performance experience and expert commentary to advanced chamber ensembles along with cash prizes, scholarships and performance opportunities.

Seyon also took second prize at the Music Teachers National Association National Chamber Music Competition and first prize at the MTNA Southwest Division Chamber Music Competition in woodwinds divisions. The MTNA competitions, one of the most successful and prestigious student competitions in the country, provides educational experiences and recognizes exceptionally talented young artists and their teachers in their pursuit of musical excellence.

Hong, one of Seyon’s founding members, also took second prize as a soloist at the MTNA National Chamber Music Competition, Young Artist Competition and first prize at MTNA Southwest Division Chamber Music, Young Artist Performance Competition in woodwinds.

The quartet formed in fall 2017 and was coached by Christopher Creviston, associate professor in the ASU School of Music.

One of the quartet’s top missions is the promotion of new music with several commissioned works and world premiere pieces to their credit. They recently completed a performance tour through Texas of their competition repertoire.

Zelenak said she has played chamber music since middle school and loves how a chamber ensemble is a cohesive unit with the ability to highlight the individual voices to create amazing music. She said the quartet loved sharing their music with fellow students and encouraged players to explore other types of saxophones other than what they normally played. 

Competitions are rough, Zelenak said, and are oftentimes 75% skill and 25% luck. Her advice to performers interested in competing is to keep going and perform as much as possible.

“It’s best to not go into a competition with the mindset that all you want to do is win,” Zelenak said. “You should want to play the very best you have ever played. That is the goal of competitions — not to win, but to better yourself as musicians and performers. If you do that, you will find success.”

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