Classical saxophone gets its due at this festival, featuring a week of international talent performing all over town

Usually associated with jazz, this festival shows off the saxophone’s wide range in its original role in classical music: as an intermediate instrument between woodwinds and brass. Founded and organized by Lars Mlekusch, a prominent saxophonist and professor at the Vienna Conservatory, it is now in its fourth run, drawing on its (and Mlekusch’s) reputation to attract 70 renowned masters from 23 countries, including the venerable Claude Delangle (France), the young shooting star Bartek Duś (Poland), and Gerard McChrystal (N. Ireland), who has performed with Philip Glass and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

The venues are almost as varied as the musicians performing, featuring concert venues both large and small, several museums and even the Stephansdom. Among the highlights of the 13 concerts are: the opening overture at the Konzerthaus, where Mlekusch will conduct the Saxophonensemble Wien-Zürich as they play all-sax versions of Sibelius, Grieg and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The 21er Haus Postcards, where saxophonists from 15 nations will play works by composers from their homelands, including Chile, Thailand, Australia, Japan et al. At Oberes Belvedere Gold. Berg.Werk is a reimagining of Bach’s Goldberg variations for saxophone quartet by Karlheinz Essl (junior), with the Austrian composer personally “intervening” on electronics. At the Stephansdom there will be a 20-saxophone rendition by Mlekusch and ensemble of Haydn’s Die Sieben Letzten Worte, and Coda at the mumok, featuring 20th century and contemporary composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen.

In addition, Duś, McChristal and other virtuosos such as Dragan Sremec (Croatia), the Solaris Duo (US/Georgia) Amit Dubester (Israel) and Valentin Kovalev will give free lunchtime concerts at the Alte Schmiede on Mar 15-18.


Vienna International Saxfest 2016
Mar 14-20, various venues