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Riga Saxophone Quartet

Rīgas Saksofonu kvartets

Oskars Petrauskis (from left), Artis Sīmanis, Ainars Šablovskis and Arvīds Kazlausks

 

RSK made a promising debut in 1992 starting the era of academic saxophone music in Latvia. At that time other musicians played in the quartet. The current artistic team has performed together since 2009. The only person who has stayed with the ensemble since day one is its founder Artis Sīmanis.

RSK play not only in concert halls, but also in schools and churches of Latvia, at corporate events and opening of exhibitions. For its enthusiastic concert activities and highly professional artistic performance the quartet in 1999 received the Great Music Prize – Latvia’s highest award in music. Over the last concert seasons RSK has toured Latvia as well as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Portugal, Canada, China, the USA, France, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria. The quartet performed at such internationally significant music festivals as Probaltica (Poland), Jazz Kaar (Estonia), Rainbow Jazz (Estonia), Upbeat (Norway and Sweden), Baltic Culture Festival (Finland), Ètonnante Lettonie (France), the World’s Saxophone Congress in Montreal in 2000 and in Ljubljana in 2006. RSK represented Riga in its culture days in Warsaw, Porto, Lübeck and Prague. The ensemble is the linchpin of the international Sax Festival Saxophonia that in February 2009 took place for the 6th time in Latvia.

With its performance RSK have won recognition among the audiences as well as among professional critics: being democratic in their choice of stylistics and stubbornly optimistic in their professional development improving their sound palette and musical skills. Not least important, the quartet has broken the old stereotype of sax being exclusively a jazz instrument. The proof is the repertoire of RSK that is rich in arrangements of J. S. Bach’s, J. Gabrielle’s, G. F. Handel’s, B. Marcello’s pieces for the saxophone quartet on the one hand, and the original saxophone compositions of the 20th and the 21st century (Andrew Poppy, Gabriel Jackson, Carleton Macy Joe Cutler, Perry Goldstein etc.), on the other hand. There is also the third direction: the breathtaking Latin American dance rhythms and lyrical melodies of the brilliant Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla. And still the fourth direction: arrangements of the masterpieces of the world’s great jazz legends G. Gershwin, D. Gillespie, D. Ellington, F. Woods, M. Mower and other jazz composers as well as original compositions. In the quartet’s repertoire due place is given to the original works of Latvian composers for saxophone (Rihards Dubra, Ilze Arne, Alvils Altmanis, Selga Mence, Vineta Līce, Kārlis Lācis, Pēteris Butāns, Ēriks Ešenvalds), written for this particular ensemble. A number of those compositions are included in the RSK CD Mirabo tilts (Le Pont Mirabeau), recorded together with the French saxophonist Jean Pierre Baraglioli, whereas the works of Latvian composer Kārlis Lācis were performed together with the author and the orchestra Rīgas Kamermūziķi. RSK have established successful collaboration with the Canadian saxophonist and composer Nick Gotham permanently residing in Latvia whose chamber opera Fruits of the Earth was staged and recorded in a CD together with Latvian Radio Choir.

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