Susan Fancher, soprano and alto saxophones Branford Marsalis, alto saxophone Inara Zandmane, piano
Lessons of the Sky
Largo et Allegro
The importance of philanthropy has never been greater. Please consider a gift to the School of Music to support our mission and ensure the future of music at UNCG.
Susan Fancher is an internationally recognized classical saxophonist known for her expressive tone and poetic musical interpretations. She has inspired and premiered over 100 new compositions and continues to collaborate with composers both young and more established to create new, vibrant repertoire for the saxophone. Audiences and critics praise her ability to fill even the most complex notation with life, a trademark of her work as a champion of new music. Susan Fancher is an active performer appearing in concerts as a concerto soloist, with pianist Ināra Zandmane, with the Red Clay Saxophone Quartet, performing music with electronics, in sacred settings, and with the band The Difficulties. She is the former soprano saxophonist of the Amherst, Vienna, and Rollin’ Phones saxophone quartets.
Recent and upcoming performances of new compositions include Scott Lindroth’s Schley Road together with the Ciompi String Quartet, Glory by Harriet Steinke with the Women’s Wind Ensemble, Men’s Culture by Stuart Saunders Smith with percussionist Joseph Van Hassel, Hedera by James Paul Sain, and Mending Time by Martin Bresnick with the Red Clay Saxophone Quartet, Enveloped by Jenni Watson for solo saxophone, new music by Shar Joyner, Indiria Everett, and Suzanne Polak for saxophone and piano, and Not The End and other new music created and performed by The Difficulties.
Continue reading about Susan Fancher
As a concerto soloist, Susan Fancher has championed concertos for soprano saxophone by Mark Engebretson, David Kirkland Garner, Hilary Tann, and Michael Torke. Susan Fancher’s discography lists over twenty CDs on Arizona University Records, Philips, New World, Lotus Records Salzburg, Parma, Mark Records, Extraplatte, and Innova Records. Her CD release “Of Erthe and Air: Susan Fancher and friends play music of Hilary Tann” on Arizona University Records features a live performance of Tann’s soprano saxophone concerto Shakkei with the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, performed at the World Saxophone Congress in Bangkok.
She has performed in many of the world’s leading venues including Sala São Paulo, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Filharmonia Hall in Warsaw, and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and has appeared in concert in Albania, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and throughout the US.
Born and raised in Albion, New York, Susan Fancher earned undergraduate degrees in both saxophone performance and mathematics, as well as her Doctor of Music, from Northwestern University, where she was a student of Dr. Frederick Hemke. She was awarded the Médaille d’Or (Gold Medal) from the conservatory in Bordeaux, France, where she studied with Monsieur Jean-Marie Londeix. Susan Fancher is a Lecturing Fellow at Duke University where she teaches saxophone and entrepreneurship, and coaches chamber music. She is an artist clinician for the Vandoren/DANSR and Selmer companies.
Growing up in the rich environment of New Orleans as the oldest son of pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis, BranfordMarsalis was drawn to music along with siblings Wynton, Delfeayo, and Jason. His first instrument, the clarinet, gave way to the alto and then the tenor and soprano saxophones when the teenage Branford began working in local bands. A growing fascination with jazz as he entered college gave him the basic tools to obtain his first major jobs, with trumpet legend Clark Terry and alongside Wynton in Art Blakey’s legendary Jazz Messengers. When the brothers left to form the Wynton Marsalis Quintet, the world of uncompromising acoustic jazz was invigorated. Branford formed his own quartet in 1986 and, with a few minor interruptions in the early years, has sustained the unit as his primary means of expression. Known for the telepathic communication among its uncommonly consistent personnel, its deep book of original music replete with expressive melodies and provocative forms, and an unrivaled spirit in both live and recorded performances, the Branford Marsalis Quartet has long been recognized as the standard to which other ensembles of its kind must be measured.
Classical music inhabits a growing portion of Branford’s musical universe. A frequent soloist with classical ensembles, Branford has become increasingly sought after as a featured soloist with such acclaimed orchestras as the Chicago, Detroit, Düsseldorf, and North Carolina Symphonies and the Boston Pops, with a growing repertoire that includes compositions by Debussy, Glazunov, Ibert, Mahler, Milhaud, Rorem and Vaughn Williams.
Continue reading about Branford Marsalis
Under the direction of conductor Gil Jardim, Branford Marsalis and members of the Philharmonia Brasileira toured the United States in the Fall of 2008, performing works by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the revered Brazilian composer’s death. Making his first appearance with the New York Philharmonic in the summer of 2010, Marsalis was invited to join them again as soloist in their 2010‐2011 concert series, where he demonstrated his versatility and prowess, bringing “a gracious poise and supple tone… and an insouciant swagger” (New York Times) to the repertoire. In 2013, Branford served as Creative Director for the Ascent Series of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which included two week-long residencies as well as several concerts with the CSO.
In Fall of 2014, Branford joined the highly-celebrated Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia in Marsalis “Well-Tempered” on a 20-city US tour, performing Baroque masterpieces by Albinoni, Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and others. In October 2015, Branford took on the challenging Saxophone Concerto by composer John Adams, performing the piece with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. In 2016, he traveled to Germany for a concert with the Bayerische Staatsoper at the National Theatre in Munich, performing an array of selections including Jacob Ter Veldhuis’ Tallahatchie Concerto, and then returned to Asia twice more that year, first for his debut collaboration with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, followed by a trip to Kuala Lumpur where he performed two concerts with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra at the Petronas Twin Towers. In Fall 2016, he returned to his home state of Louisiana where he was invited to be a guest soloist with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, presenting works by John Williams and Heitor Villa Lobos.
As for other public stages, Branford spent a period touring with Sting, collaborated with the Grateful Dead and Bruce Hornsby, served as Musical Director of The Tonight Show Starring Jay Leno, and hosted National Public Radio’s widely syndicated Jazz Set. The range and quality of these diverse activities established Branford Marsalis as a familiar presence beyond the worlds of jazz and classical music, while his efforts to help heal and rebuild New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina mark him as an artist with an uncommonly effective social vision. Together with Harry Connick, Jr. and New Orleans Habitat for Humanity, Branford conceived and helped to realize The Musicians’ Village, a community in the Upper Ninth Ward that provides homes to the displaced families of musicians and other local residents. At the heart of The Musicians’ Village stands the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, a community center dedicated to preserving the rich New Orleans musical legacy containing state-of-the art spaces for performance, instruction, and recording.
Some might gauge Branford Marsalis’s success by his numerous awards, including three Grammys and his citation as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. To Branford, however, these are only way stations along what continues to be one of the most fascinating and rewarding journeys in the world of music.
Ināra Zandmane is one of the leading collaborative pianists of North Carolina. She has performed with such artists as Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Augustin Hadelich, Ray Chen, Sergei Antonov, Yura Lee, Martin Storey, Paul Coletti, Ian Clarke, and Branford Marsalis, in addition to regularly performing with Blue Mountain Ensemble and in duos with saxophonist Susan Fancher and violinist Fabián López. In 2008, Ināra teamed up with Latvian violinist Vineta Sareika on a tour leading them to Boston, Cleveland, and Toronto, before culminating in an invitation-only performance at the Kennedy Center arranged by the Latvian Embassy in the United States. In 2012, Ināra stepped in on a short notice to perform with violinist Ray Chen at the Aspen Music Festival, followed by a recital in Lima, Peru. In 2014, she was invited to the International Saxophone Symposium and Competition in Columbus, Georgia to present a recital with Vincent David.
Ms. Zandmane is frequently invited to serve as an official accompanist at national conferences and competitions, among them the North American Saxophone Alliance conference and MTNA National competition since 2005. She is the accompanist in residence for the Southeastern Piano Festival that takes place in Columbia, SC every June. Ināra Zandmane is the staff accompanist at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she performs with students and faculty more than fifty different programs per year.
Ināra Zandmane’s solo recordings include the piano works by Maurice Ravel, recorded together with her husband Vincent van Gelder, and the complete piano sonatas by Alexander Scriabin. Ināra Zandmane has collaborated with leading Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks, giving Latvian premieres of his piano works The Spring Music and Landscapes of the Burnt-out Earth and recording the latter one on the Conifer Classics label. She also can be heard in various chamber music collaborations on Navona Records and Centaur Records.