Devils, tap dancing and, saxophones? For a 2011 Halloween performance, freshman Ainsley Kilgo, a student at the Eastman School of Music, made her tap-dancing debut with the Eastman Saxophone Project’s rendition of “Devil’s Rag” in front of a packed Hatch Hall.
“I couldn’t sleep afterwards,” Kilgo, now a junior, said. “It was so much fun. I had never experienced so much happiness after a concert.”
ESP will perform another concert this Friday at 8 p.m. in Kilbourn Hall — minus the devils but likely to contain just as many surprises.
As the country’s first conductor-less saxophone ensemble, ESP performs its concert repertoire entirely from memory. These include such works such as arrangements of Stravinksy’s “The Rite of Spring” and Prokofiev’s “Classical Symphony.”
“The mission of ESP, to me, is mostly for us as players learning how to communicate,” Kilgo said. “It’s our whole studio, so it’s one big chamber group. I feel like our studio has bonded so much through ESP, through the shared time and investment.”
Friday’s concert will feature works by Ted Goldman, Ellwood Derr, Franz Schubert, and Philip Glass.
“The Goldman is the first piece that is written and dedicated specifically for ESP,” director Chien-Kwan Lin said.
Together with assistant director Jonathan Wintringham, Lin collaborated with the composer since the initial conception of the piece, which is entitled “Rhymes with Silver.”
ESP has performed “Rhymes with Silver” three times since the beginning of the semester -— at the Greentopia Festival, Eastman’s Morning Chamber Music Series, and the UR Trustees Dinner at the Memorial Art Gallery.
“‘Rhymes with Silver’ is “the first in a series of commissions ESP is doing with [Eastman] composers,” Lin said. “The next one will be a new piece by Jennifer Bellor, which is slated to premier at the 2014 North American Saxophone Alliance National Conference.”
There are three other works on the concert, including selections from the Japanese-American film “Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters.” Composed by Phillip Glass, the soundtrack reflects Glass’s repetitive but expressive style.
“[The film] is based on the life and work of one of Japan’s most controversial authors, Yukio Mishima,” Wintringham said. “It was co-written and directed by Paul Schrader and produced by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas.”
ESP will also perform a piece by Ellwood Derr for sax octet, as well as selections from Franz Schubert’s Winterreise, featuring Eastman vocal professor Robert Swensen. Winterreise, a song cycle originally for tenor voice and piano, was arranged by graduate student and saxophonist Matt Evans for voice and saxophones.
“It continues our tradition of working with other instrumentalists, particularly ESM faculty, to expand our scope and understanding of different kinds of music,” Lin said.
Skjerseth is a member of the class of 2013.