Concerts to Feature Nationally Respected Saxophonists

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Consecutive evenings of free performances by nationally respected saxophonists are on tap at RiverCenter as the North American Saxophone Alliance holds its first conference in Columbus.

Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music is hosting the event for the alliance’s Southeast region on Friday and Saturday, March 6-7, as the the public concerts take place those evenings in Legacy Hall.

Conference director and Schwob school Professor Amy Griffiths describes the performers as “professional saxophonists who are among the best in both the Southeast and the nation.”

The conference features primarily classical saxophone playing. However, jazz will be featured during one of the Friday evening performances involving Griffiths and CSU faculty colleagues Shirantha Beddage and Paul Vaillancourt.

Griffiths will open the concerts at 7 p.m. Friday, accompanied by the CSU Percussion Ensemble directed by Professor Paul Vaillancourt. Griffiths, who has performed around the world, is co-founder of The Fountain City Ensemble and is the soloist in the recent recording of Charles Griffin’s Fist Through Traffic.

Other performers, listed with the universities where they serve as faculty artists, are:


7 p.m. Friday

• John Bleuel (West Georgia), who has toured the United States, Europe and Japan with the Bleuel Duo.
• Clifford Leaman (South Carolina), who has performed and given clinics throughout the eastern U.S.
• Joren Cain (Valdosta State), who has has performed on both sides of the Atlantic and with the U.S. Army Field Band as a featured soloist, staff arranger and as leader of the band’s Saxophone Quartet


8:15 p.m., Friday (jazz oriented)

• Shirantha Beddage, (accompanied by Griffiths and Vaillancourt), who is Schwob school’s jazz studies director and has performed extensively with jazz, classical and pop groups in Canada and the United States, including Johnny Mathis, the Temptations and the Steve Houghton/Brian Lillos Jazz Orchestra
• Stephen Fischer (Georgia College and State), who has performed at World Saxophone Congress gatherings in Minneapolis and Slovenia.
• Griffin Campbell, (Louisiana State), who has performed around the world and is noted for musical explorations have included orchestral performance, group improvisation, free jazz, improvised movie scores, pop/rock and big band section playing.


7 p.m. Saturday

• Paul Forsyth (Northwestern State), who as a member of the Three Reeds Duo, the Rasa Quartet and as a concert soloist, has performed recitals and taught master classes nationwide.
• Jan Berry Baker (Georgia State and Emory), who has performed as a soloist and chamber musician worldwide, and as an orchestral saxophonist, she regularly plays with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Grant Park Orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic and the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra.
• Paula Van Goes/Duo Elegancia (Nicholls State), who has toured internationally as a soloist and currently is a member of Duo Elegancia with flutist Jessica Dunnavant.


8:15 p.m. Saturday

• Richard Schwartz (Southeastern Louisiana), who has performed with the likes of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstandt, Byron Stripling, the Temptations, Patti Austin and the Boston Pops orchestra.
• Michael Bovenzi (North Florida), who, as an active soloist of contemporary music, has performed and premiered numerous works at national meetings of the North American Saxophone Alliance.
• Jonathan Helton (Florida), who is past president of the North American Saxophone Alliance and has performed with orchestras and wind ensembles, in recital and in numerous chamber concerts throughout North America, Europe and the Far East.
• Kenneth Fischer (Georgia), who has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician and master teacher throughout North America and Europe and in Japan and China.

Collectively the conference will involve about 75 saxophonists playing in various combinations, including solo, duets and quartets throughout Friday and Saturday. An additional 40 non-performing saxophonists will take part as well to hear performances and attend master classes.

Participants range from college-student saxophonists to professionals who are faculty artists and full-time recording and performing artists. Griffiths said RiverCenter, with “excellent concert halls and plenty of rehearsal space,” provides an ideal venue for the gathering.

“Downtown Columbus is a great location as people can walk out of the conference and find several restaurants within easy walking distance,” she said. “My saxophone colleagues from around the state and the Southeast have already heard good things about the Schwob School of Music and our exceptional facilities, and I know they will be pleased with this event.”

For more information, call 706-649-1486 or go to