Saxophonist Branford Marsalis to open festival

2012-06-24T00:00:00Z Saxophonist Branford Marsalis to open festivalBy Terry Rindfleisch | For the Daily News Winona Daily News
June 24, 2012 12:00 am  • 

World-class jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis embarks on a new journey in the world of classical music at the 2012 Minnesota Beethoven Festival.

Marsalis, a three-time Grammy winner who has his own jazz quartet, is no stranger to classical music and is a frequent soloist with major symphony orchestras.

But when he opens the Beethoven festival next Sunday, the 51-year-old will perform his first classical music recital since high school.

“This recital is something I have wanted to do for a long time,” Marsalis said in a recent telephone interview. “I don’t play classical music as much as I would like, but the more I play, the better I get. It is the most solid music I play.”

For the recital, Marsalis is collaborating with pianist Ned Kirk, a Saint Mary’s University music professor and artistic/managing director of the Beethoven festival.

“He is an amazing musician and collaborating with him has been a joy,” Kirk said. “He is the first artist who has treated me like a partner, with a lot of give and take.”

Kirk has rehearsed with Marsalis in California, North Carolina and New Orleans in preparing for the recital. It was Kirk who suggested they stage a classical music recital together after Marsalis and a Brazilian ensemble performed a special concert in October 2008 as part of the Beethoven Festival.

“He was very excited about such a recital because it was new to him, and it has been an amazing experience,” Kirk said.

Marsalis will play works for alto and soprano sax by six composers, including Beethoven and Samuel Barber.

He has played classical music professionally for 10 years. He performs about 10 classical music concerts a year and he made his debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra two years ago.

“I was horrified playing with the New York Philharmonic, and I had not (shook) like that on stage in a long time,” Marsalis said. “But in the end, it was awesome.”

He said he wasn’t fearful of classical music, though.

“I’m not afraid to fail on stage, it’s my best attribute,” he said. “Anything can go wrong on stage, but you always learn something from it.”

Marsalis, who played in a youth symphony orchestra as a child, said his first three or four years of playing classical music as a professional was a struggle.

“It requires a different and certain level of precision and interpretation,” he said.

“You have to groove just like jazz, but jazz is more conversational, and with classical music, you must develop a character that is believable.”

He likes the sound and beauty of classical music, which has taught him much, Marsalis said.

Marsalis said his collaboration with Kirk has plenty of possibilities for the future.

“Ned is awesome,” Marsalis said. “It’s hard to basically enforce a musical relationship. But he’s easy to work with, and he enjoys the process. We have a fun time, and it would be awesome to take him on tour.”

Copyright 2015 Winona Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Activate subscription button gif 2

Search local business directory

Hint: Enter a keyword that you are looking for like tires, pizza or doctors or browse the full business directory.

Follow the Winona Daily News




Sign Up for Our Email Lists

Breaking News, News Update and Sports Update Headlines. Delivered at 9a.m. daily.

Winona Daily News Events, Contests and Promotions

Business report, local Business news. Delivered once per month.

Local homes for sale.

New employment opportunities in the region.

Cars, Trucks, Vans, SUVs, Motorcycles, ATVs, Boats, RV's & more