The Fischoff Competition bills itself as the "largest chamber music competition in the nation and the world." Only the best of the best are invited to this esteemed event in South Bend, Ind. This year a University of Houston ensemble not only had the distinction of being selected for this competition, it emerged as one of its winners.
The Blue Static Saxophone Quartet from UH's Moores School of Music was awarded the Silver Medal in Fischoff's Senior Wind Division. Directed by UH affiliate artist Dan Gelok, the quartet was the youngest ensemble to place in this year's senior division.
"We were simultaneously humbled and thrilled to be awarded the silver medal," Gelok said. "For a group of undergraduates, who are music education majors and not performance majors, this is an extremely high honor, and it shows how much time and energy these students have devoted to their art."
Members of the Blue Static Saxophone Quartet are senior Bob Eason, soprano; junior Lee Redfearn III, alto; junior Justin Neumann, tenor; and sophomore Liz Ambs, baritone.
"Winning the Silver Medal at the Fischoff Competition was the culmination of hundreds of hours of rehearsal and incredible guidance from our teachers here at UH," Eason said. "Each of us is so thankful to have been a part of the quartet, and we will never stop pushing the standard that was set this year. Above all, we are proud that we were able to represent UH and make our friends, professors, and mentors proud."
The quartet was one of 12 wind ensembles accepted to the Fischoff Competition. Blue Static was the only saxophone group to pass the contest's first round. Among the selections performed were "Quartet" by Ida Gotkovsky, "Drastic Measures" by Russell Peck, "Adios Nonino" by Astor Piazzola, and "Memory" by Marcelo's Zarvoss and "Grave et Presto" by Jean Rivier.
"The impact of participating and placing in this competition is huge," Gelok said. "First, it's an incredible confirmation that these musicians have been moving in the right direction. It's also a justification of all the blood, sweat and tears they've put into getting this far. It's a great boost to the careers of the quartet members."
Blue Static formed in fall 2010. In addition to the Fischoff Competition, the group participated in the 2011 Coleman Chamber Competition in Pasadena, Calif., and Music Teachers National Association Competitions in Lubbock, Texas (state) and Norman, Okla. (division).
The Fischoff Competition was founded in 1973 by Joseph E. Fischoff. When it began, six ensembles participated. Now, 125 groups compete annually in the string and wind categories. It is the only national chamber music competition with both senior divisions (ages 18-35) and a junior division (age 18 and younger). Since its founding, more than 5,000 musicians have participated in this competition.
The Moores School of Music offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. It serves approximately 600 students annually. Areas of study include composition, conducting, performance, theory and musicology. Its faculty consists of internationally recognized performers, composers and scholars. A majority of the school's concerts are performed in the 800-seat Moores Opera House. For more details on the Moores School of Music, visit http://www.music.uh.edu/.