Rochester, N.Y. — The ViM Saxophone Quartet — composed of Eastman juniors Kristin Rarick, Michael Matlock, Dimitrios Kostaras, and Richard Miserendino — has recently won two major chamber music competitions of national repute: the Fischoff National Chamber Music Association Competition in Notre Dame, Indiana, and the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Competition in Austin, Texas. All four saxophonists are students of Assistant Professor of Saxophone Chien-Kwan Lin.
The Quartet, which has been working together for almost three years, credits much of their success to their saxophone professor and chamber coach at Eastman, Chien-Kwan Lin. “Chien-Kwan teaches us to make every note that we play to be musical and genuine,” said ViM saxophonist Michael Matlock.
At their teacher’s suggestion, the group frequently performs their music from memory — an unusual practice for a chamber ensemble. “Chien-Kwan teaches us that when we memorize the music, we really play it from the heart,” said Matlock. The group prepares rigorously for all coachings, performances, and competitions by rehearsing almost every day of the week.
The Fischoff competition is one of the most prestigious chamber music competitions in the country for pre-professional chamber groups. Despite being the youngest ensemble to make it to the semi-finals of the Senior division of the competition, the Quartet garnered a Gold Medal — and a cash prize of $3,000 — for their performances throughout the competition.
The national round of the MTNA Competition took place in late March, after two rigorous rounds at the state and regional levels. The Quartet won first prize in the Collegiate Chamber Music Performance division, which also awarded a cash prize of $3,000.
“The one thing that sets them apart from others is their dedication to making each other better,” said Lin. “They are talented individuals, but it is this dedication that keeps taking them as a group to the next level. They’re such an inspiration.”
Although the ensemble will take a break from rehearsing and performing over the summer, they already have major upcoming performances on their schedule. Most notably, they will perform Urban Requiem for saxophone quartet and wind ensemble — a piece by Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award winning composer Michael Colgrass — with the Eastman Wind Ensemble during the 2006-2007 academic year. They will also participate in the MTNA Winner’s Recital in Toronto in March, 2007.