Intl. Saxophone Symposium
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International Saxophone Symposium

Due to the Budget Control Act of 2011, otherwise known as sequestration, the Navy Band has canceled the 2014 Saxophone Symposium. We are making every effort to bring this popular public outreach event back in 2015. Please refer to this page for more information in the future. We appreciate your support and understanding.

The International Saxophone Symposium is the premier saxophone conference in North America and routinely draws the top performers and students from around the world. This two-day event features large ensemble saxophone concerto concerts, small recitals and everything in-between, including quartet recitals, masterclasses, clinics, exhibits and much more. In its 34 years, the International Saxophone Symposium has established itself as an important destination for students, performers and audiences alike.

First held in 1978, the Symposium was the brainchild of former Navy Band leader, Cdr. Ned Muffley and the legendary Master Chief Musician Dale Underwood. The inspiration for the symposium came from Muffley and Underwood’s attendance at the 1977 World Saxophone Congress in Brussels. The realization that the Navy Band could host its own North American event that might even surpass the World Saxophone Congress prompted Underwood to work tirelessly to organize the first symposium on March 17-18, 1978. Coincidentally, the first symposium drew heavily from Belgium as the two featured soloists, Elie Apper of the Royal Conservatory of Music and Yvon Ducene of the Musique des Guides, both hailed from Brussels. That first symposium established an important tradition, as the Navy Band Commodores jazz ensemble also performed with jazz soloists Jim Boitos, Chad Evans, Tim Eyerman and Frank Foster.

After years of switching between venues such as the Departmental Auditorium, University of Maryland and the historic Washington Navy Yard, the symposium finally moved to its present location at the George Mason University Center for the Arts in 1991. The current venue has enabled the Navy Band to increase the number of events on the program and attract even larger audiences. This expansion of the symposium has helped reflect the multifaceted nature of the saxophone and the performers who play the instrument.

Highlighting the prominence of the saxophone in both classical and jazz literature are the two marquee concerts on Friday and Saturday nights. Both concerts feature guest artists as soloists, but the expertise of those soloists is often reflected in the accompanying ensemble. Traditionally, Friday night’s concert features the Navy Concert Band in a mixture of band pieces and classically-oriented saxophone solos. In previous years, soloists with the Concert Band have included Donald Sinta, Claude Delangle, Frederick Hemke, Steven Mauk, Jean-Yves Fourmeau, Chien Kwan-Lin and many others. Saturday night’s concert, however, features the Commodores and guest soloists in an evening of big band and jazz music. Soloists with the Commodores have included Eddie Daniels, Chris Potter, Grover Washington, Jr. and Branford Marsalis.

In addition, the Navy Band is proud to support the symposium’s College Quartet Series. In 2003, under the direction of Senior Chief Musician Tim Roberts, the Navy Band established the College Quartet Series as a way to feature college and university performers. Throughout the symposium, university quartets are featured in their own recitals. This not only increases the number of excellent performances but also furthers the Navy Band’s educational outreach initiatives by encouraging saxophone chamber music. Individual recitals, group recitals, lectures and masterclasses from major performers and teachers run throughout the day to complete the conference experience.