Gabriel Sanchez, a first year graduate student in saxophone performance, performs in front of a class to receive feedback from Preston Duncan, a saxophone teacher at the University of Minnesota, on how to improve his technique. The class was part of Saxtemberfest, the 20th annual event series for student musicians. Margo Morton // DN
Saxtemberfest gives music students experience, networking opportunities
Since Sept. 22, Ball State saxophonists have gotten the chance to meet and play with multiple world-famous musicians.
It’s all part of Saxtemberfest, an annual event series for student musicians celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Nathan Bogert, assistant professor of music performance (saxophone), believes Saxtemberfest to be in its 20th year, though the origin of the series has been questionable. He said he knows Saxtemberfest was started by a previous professor in the ‘90s, and he even experienced it as an undergraduate here himself, but no one is sure of the original beginning.
Upcoming master classes
- Sept. 27, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Music Instruction Building Choral Hall: Guest artist master class with Michael Shults
- Sept. 30, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Hargreaves Music Building: Guest artist master class with Andrew Bishop
However, Bogert has been trying to make the event bigger and better each year since 2014, when he started at Ball State as a professor.
Saxtemberfest used to be a day, but has grown and is now spread out into nearly two weeks this year. Saxtemberfest brings in professional saxophonists to lead master classes, where students can get help with pieces they are working on. There are also recitals by both students and the visiting professionals.
On Sept. 24, Preston Duncan led a master class in Sursa Performance Hall. Duncan currently teaches saxophone at the University of Minnesota and earned his Bachelor of Arts in saxophone performance at Indiana University. He has also completed an Artist Diploma and a master's degree in saxophone performance.
Gabriel Sanchez, a first year graduate student in saxophone performance, had the chance to perform a piece he is working on in front of the class and received feedback from Duncan on how to improve his technique.
“It’s a really unique experience,” Sanchez said. “You get the full experience of playing in front of people. It feels more complete.”
Saxtemberfest is also a way for the music students to network in their field.
Lamont Webb was an undergraduate at Ball State the same time as Bogert and is now earning his Artist Diploma. He said being able to meet with professionals has benefits beyond learning a piece.
“The great thing is that it opens up a door for everyone. We’re setting up a network,” Webb said. “The more people [Bogert] brings in, the more options we have for education, networking and money.”
All Saxtemberfest events are free and open to the public. There are three more recitals and two master classes for this year’s event.