The APOLLO SAXOPHONE QUARTET has been at the forefront of the UK contemporary music scene for over 33 years now, and has without doubt made the largest single contribution to the repertoire for Saxophone Quartet in the UK, commissioning and premiering well over one hundred works, many of which are now considered core repertoire and are performed by Saxophone Quartets worldwide. This includes significant works from Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Michael Torke, Michael Nyman, Graham Fitkin, Will Gregory, Dominic Muldowney, Keith Tippett, Django Bates, Barbara Thompson, Joby Talbot, Bob Mintzer, Kenny Wheeler, Eddie Parker, Barry Guy, to name but a few, ranging from quartets to concerti with orchestras.
The group has devised several highly successful collaborative projects, including a hugely popular and successful series of original scores to black and white film, and performance projects with poet, dancers, multi-media and strings. The group has recorded seven CDs of commissioned repertoire to date, including a DECCA (Argo) CD that topped at no.3 in the UK classical charts, and their latest, PERSPECTIVES, released to celebrate the group’s 30th anniversary. Formed in 1985 at the RNCM, where they became the first group to receive Distinction in the college’s Professional Performance Diploma (the RNCM’s highest honour at the time), the quartet went on to achieve competition success in the Royal Over-Seas League Chamber Music Competition, Park Lane Group Competition, Tunnell Trust Young Artists Scheme, Countess of Munster, Tillett Trust in the UK and the Erasmus Concours in Holland, culminating in First Prize and Outstanding Performance Award at the 1992 Tokyo International Chamber Music Competition. The Quartet were also invited to join Sir Yehudi Menuhin’s Live Music Now scheme, where they were major contributors for almost ten years.
The group has since toured extensively, including concerts in Japan, South Africa, most of Europe, and the UK. They have collaborated with the Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company, Poet Lemn Sissay, 4-Mality Percussion Quartet, their own project with Black & White Film, a project with Keith Tippet & the BBC Singers, a multi-media project with composer Matt Wright and the quartet has recently premiered a new performance project with the Dutch jazz-inspired Artvark Saxophone Quartet, (with whom they first collaborated in 2014 as part of their South Africa tour), which was released on CD in the Spring of 2019, and now tours across Europe. The Quartet plan to record a new CD of commissioned concerti for saxophone quartet and strings in the coming season and are in the development stages of a major new joint composition/performance project. The ASQ has always thrived by creating the sound world in which it operates, always innovating, always leading, always moving on to the next project without looking back, and the future is set to continue in the same vein.
Signiﬁcant Apollo commissions
Michael Torke – July, Flint
Django Bates – Travel Cartoons for the Blind, A Fine Frenzy (With Dancers)
Richard Rodney Bennett – Quartet
Bob Mintzer – Quartet No.1
Graham Fitkin – Hurl/ Plan B
Keith Tippett – Five Melodies and Four Whispers for Archie’s Chair
Michael Nyman – Songs for Tony
Dai Fujikura – Reach Out
Michael Ball – Serenade for Seikilos
Andrew Keeling – Wrestling with Angels
Charlie Barber – Organum
Dominic Muldowney – Quartet No.2
Barbara Thompson – Three Quartets/ Concert for Saxes
Howard Skempton – Ballade
Dinuk Wijeratne – Visaya II, Vesak Octet
Iain Ballamy – Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre
Eddie Parker – Cartoons
Kenny Wheeler – Just Four Men
Mike Gibbs – Take a Left
Roy Powell – Bow Out, That’s What Flies
Luis Tinoco – Short Cuts
Bernardo Sassetti – Smoking Aria
Paul Mitchell-Davidson – Small Dream of a Dance, Scenes from a Carnival, All lit Up, Gaia, The Galloping Cat,
A Chorus of Inner Voices, Essay on the Name Charlie Bird Parker
Joby Talbot – Blue Cell
Will Gregory – High Life, Doppler’s Hornpipe, Scintillation, Hoe Down!
Julian Arguelles – Quartet