Members of the Red Line Saxophone Quartet are, from left: Brandon Kies, Douglas O’Connor, Gao Qun, and Quinn Lewis. Photo by Gerry Szymanski.
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Red Line Saxophone Quartet was awarded the grand prize at the 2010 Coleman International Chamber Ensemble Competition, winning its fourth prestigious competition in two months.
The group, which includes Eastman School of Music doctoral student Douglas O’Connor and seniors Brandon Kies, Quinn Lewis, and Gai Qun, received the $7,500 Alice Coleman Prize at the Coleman Competition, which was held April 24 at California Institute of Technology.
In March, Red Line was awarded the first prize of $2,000 in the North American Saxophone Alliance Quartet Competition; the $2,000 first prize in the winds division of the Plowman Chamber Music Competition; and the Gold Medal and $10,000 first prize in the Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition.
“I guess in sports, you would call this a Grand Slam,” said Assistant Professor Chien-Kwan Lin, the group’s coach. “When you combine talent, hard work and enterprise with the Eastman environment, that’s a winning formula. Our guys just keep doing some amazing things!”
Since its formation in 2008, Red Line Saxophone Quartet has accumulated an enviable list of awards. In 2009, the ensemble took home first prize in the Music Teachers National Association Chamber Music Competition and a Gold Medal in the senior division of the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition.
Red Line made its orchestra debut in 2009, performing with the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra alongside saxophonist Branford Marsalis, who later commented in a newspaper story, “Man, those guys can play. It was a nice humbling moment.”
The Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition is a highly respected national and international event, with competitors coming from major music schools. Many Coleman Competition winners have gone on to become widely acclaimed artists; the roster includes the Tokyo String Quartet, pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane, and new music ensemble eighth blackbird.
Red Line’s win makes the second year in a row that an ensemble of Eastman School students has won a top prize in the Coleman competition. In 2009, Arabesque Winds, a female woodwind quintet, was awarded the Coleman-Saunderson Prize for Woodwinds and Brass.
All four members of Red Line perform with the Eastman Wind Ensemble. In addition:
- Kies, alto saxophone, is a recipient of the Eastman School’s Performer’s Certificate. As a classical musician, he has given solo performances in Chicago, Toronto, and Orlando. In addition, he has worked in master classes with jazz saxophonists Bob Mintzer and James Moody and has won the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award.
- Lewis, baritone sax, won third prize in the 2009 Music Teachers National Association Woodwind Young Artist Competition. He is a performing member of the Ossia new music organization and a recipient of the Performer’s Certificate. He has performed as a soloist in Rochester and New York City.
- Qun, tenor saxophone, studied in the Central Conservatory in Beijing, performed in Beijing, Dalian, Chengdu, and Shienyong over the summer of 2007, and was featured with the Dalian Saxophone Ensemble on Chinese television. Most recently, he won second prize in the Music Teachers National Association soloist competition in New York.
- O’Connor, soprano saxophone, won second prize in the 2008 International Jean-Marie Londeix Saxophone Competition, second prize in the 2008 North American Saxophone Alliance Classical Solo Competition, and first prize in the 2007 Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Woodwind Competition. He was named an emerging artist by American Symphony Orchestra League magazine and has appeared as a soloist with the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra.
The group’s performance schedule includes an upcoming appearance in Lafayette Hill, Penn.
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