Concert Hall Column: Classically Bacas

On Sunday Oct. 21 Peter Bacas (’19) kicked off the recital season with his senior tenor saxophone recital “Classically Bacas.” This is the first of two recitals that Bacas, a music and business double major, will perform this year. His performance featured many standards of the classical tenor saxophone repertoire including works by Bozza, Telemann and Wilder.




While the tenor saxophone is not Bacas’ only instrument (his program describes him as “an advanced musician on over seven instruments”), it is definitely the one he has been known for during his time at Drew. Bacas showed off his chops during the 40 minute recital which felt short for the audience but certainly long for Bacas who played five solo pieces, the first of which had five movements.


The first piece was the Sonata in C Minor by Georg Philipp Telemann, a German Baroque composer and multi-instrumentalist. The piece was originally written for flute, as the tenor saxophone did not exist in the 1700s, but was later appropriated for the tenor saxophone by Richard Hervig. David Iskowitz, Adjunct Professor of Music, accompanied Bacas for this and three of the remaining four pieces. The second and final movements were particularly popular with the crowd.


Second on the program was Chant Corse by 20th century French composer Henri Tomasi. This piece, as Bacas writes in his program notes, “was written in a distinctly lyrical fashion, something Tomasi was well known for.” Bacas’ use of articulation and dynamics in this piece really made for a performance that showed off his musicality.


Next on the program was Improvisation et Caprice by Eugene Bozza, another 20th century French composer. This piece stood out as it is an unaccompanied solo in two movements. The first movement, with its dark, slow moving lines recalled the improvisation of the jazz world. In complete contrast is the second movement, the Caprice, which is fast-paced. Bacas writes in the program notes that the piece “takes full advantage of the entire range of the saxophone and pushes the player to his or her limit.” This certainly came across in the performance which Bacas executed with grace.


The fourth piece on the program, Three Ballads for Stan Getz by American composer Alec Wilder, was a bit of a preview of Bacas’ spring recital which will focus solely on jazz. The piece was written for Stan Getz, famous American jazz saxophonist. It was originally conceived for chamber orchestra and saxophone and later reduced to a piano and saxophone duet, and Iskowitz and Bacas did a great job with this difficult piece. Following this was David Bennett’s Concerto in G Minor, which was another audience favorite. The lyrical lines in this piece create a sort of duet with the piano and saxophone which made for a lovely ending to the program.


But, of course, this would not be a Bacas recital if there was not an encore. For the encore Bacas was joined by Jim Saltzman, Adjunct Professor of Music, and Bacas’ personal teacher. The two played a duet which was impressive given the amount of music that Bacas had just played. The relationship built between Bacas and Saltzman was evident in how they played together, and Bacas thanks Saltzman in his program sharing how Saltzman “has not only made me into the musician I am today, but into who I am as a person as well.”


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March 13, 2020

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