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CMU, high school students participate in biennial Saxophone Day

Saxophonist Cristopher Creviston takes a breath during a performance on Mar. 26 in the Staples Family Concert Hall. Josh Barnhart | Staff Photographer

Saxophone Day, a biennial event at Central Michigan University, brought 150 high school students to campus Sunday to perform in Staples Family Concert Hall.

Professor of Saxophone John Nichol and the CMU Saxophone Studio hosted the event.

High school students began the day watching a master class of the four CMU Saxophone Quartets conducted by Christopher Creviston, a guest artist and professor of Saxophone at Arizona State University.

After the master class, all saxophonists rehearsed together for three hours as the Michigan Saxophone Ensemble.

Nichol has hosted Saxophone Day since 1995. He said what made this year’s Saxophone Day such a success was the Central Wails Saxophone Orchestra, which played at 2 p.m. The seven-piece saxophone choir includes a drummer and is made entirely of CMU students.

Creviston performed a concert afterwards accompanied by his wife Hannah on piano. Nichol said Creviston is one of the most brilliant saxophone performers in existence.

Ben MacDonald, a sophomore from Nashville, Tennessee, also thought Creviston was incredible.

“It was so inspiring to see one of the strongest saxophonists of our time,” said MacDonald, who is also a member of the CMU Saxophone Ensemble.

Following Creviston's concert, high school students were treated to a CMU Saxophone Ensemble concert. MacDonald said the group spent many hours preparing for the performance.

“My quartet, we rehearse seven days a week, many hours each day, especially for this one because we want to do our very best with such a big crowd,” MacDonald said.

Nichol said his students are gifted and bright and praised them for their hard work.

"I just love doing projects like this with them," Nichol said. "I just think they’re the best and we’re having a blast.”

At the end of the day, all the saxophonists gathered together as the Michigan Saxophone Ensemble to play one final concerts

“Playing by yourself is nice, playing with some saxophones is better, but playing with 150 saxophonists is best," MacDonald said.

As a sophomore from out of state, this was MacDonald's first time attending Saxophone Day.

“It was an incredible experience,” MacDonald said. “I spent a whole day with old and new friends promoting the saxophone, music, and friendship. What more can anyone ask for?

“I remember my first time being around the CMU Saxophone Program. It inspired me so much that I’m really excited to see that same thing happen to high schoolers. I’m positive that a lot of people will get inspired and passionate about music.”

Mount Pleasant High School junior Robert Alm participated in the event for his fourth time.

“I’ve just always loved the people here,” Alm said. “Surrounded by these people, all this outside influence, I always play better than when I’m just playing by myself.”