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Music department showcases saxophones, honors a legend

Bradleys music department will host its third SaxFest event this Sunday. The event, which started six years ago with the help of saxophone professor Keith Zimmerman, will feature both professional and student performers.

I was asked to come [to Bradley] by the chairman of the music department, Zimmerman, Bradleys Saxophone Ensemble director, said. Basically, the saxophone existence here was nil, and [the chairman] asked me to come in and tasked me with the job of building something. So things had gotten large enough about five or six years ago that we said it would nice to bring in some people.

This year, SaxFest will be held to honor the acknowledgements of Eugene Rousseau, a world-renowned classical saxophonist. Rousseau, Zimmermans friend of 49 years, both organized and participated in SaxFest events in the past. He has also given lectures to younger students and critiqued them on their playing.

It was incredibly nerve-racking because the first time I met [Rousseau], it was right when I was going to play for him. He was an incredibly nice man, senior music business major Jacob Klein said. When I was a kid I would listen to Rousseau and Marcel Mule recordings on repeat all day.

Klein will be performing in the Bradley Saxophone Quartet and Quintet at SaxFest. But he said he is no stranger to SaxFest events he has played in them since before enrolling at Bradley, while he was in high school.

[SaxFest] is a way to broaden your horizons and experience something new and something really cool, Klein said. Youre going to hear a variety of music.

This year, however, Rousseau will not be attending due to undergoing kidney dialysis, limiting his ability to travel.

We hit on the idea that instead of the master classes and lectures and so forth, we would just do this humongous concert and do it as if [Rousseau] was here and bring in some of the music we played while hes been here, Zimmerman said.

The event will be live-streamed allowing Rosseau and a few others across the country to watch the performances. Though the night will be in honor of Rousseau, it will also be devoted to the innovation of saxophone performance.

The kind of things were going to do are very, very unique, Zimmerman said. One of the Bradley quartets is playing the very first quartet ever written for saxophones.

When it comes to attracting an audience, however, Zimmerman said the new way to experience music is what makes SaxFest inviting to attendees.

I overheard some of the kids that came a couple years ago say, Man I didnt know a bunch of saxophones could sound like that, Zimmerman said. Part of the idea of coming to a school like Bradley is not just about sticking your head in the closet and doing one thing you have lots of opportunities.

SaxFest will take place November 5 in the Dingeldine Music Center starting at 3 p.m. Admission is free.

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