Colere Quartet

John Cummins, soprano saxophone

Elissa Kana, alto saxophone

Greg Rife, tenor saxophone

Dennis Kwok, baritone saxophone

May 19, 2021

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts

David Schwan, host


J.S. Bach; arr. Tochio – Concerto Italien, BWV 971 (12′)

I. Allegro

II. Andante

III. Presto

Guillermo Lago – Ciudades (11′)

Córdoba (España)

Montevideo (Uruguay)

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)

Russell Peck – Drastic Measures (10′)

I. Poco adagio espressivo

II. Allegro

Founded in 2017 at the University of Iowa, the Colere Quartet is an Iowa-City based ensemble comprised of saxophonists John Cummins, Elissa Kana, Greg Rife, and Dennis Kwok. Colere presents engaging programs consisting of a wide range of classical as well as contemporary repertoire. Recent performances include recitals at the University of Iowa, Augustana College, and Monmouth College, performances at North American Saxophone Alliance conferences, and appearances at a variety of community engagement concerts.  

Honors awarded to Colere include a Gold Medal at the 2020 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and First Prize at the 2019 Plowman Chamber Music Competition.  

Colere is a Latin word meaning “to cultivate.”  This name was inspired by Iowa’s expansive farmland and the group’s commitment to cultivating musical life in the Midwest and beyond.

J.S. Bach (1685-1750); arr. Tochio

Concerto Italien, BWV 971 (1735) 

Johann Sebastian Bach became fascinated with the Italian style around 1713 when he worked as an organist in the Duke of Weimar’s court.  Here, Bach had access to many of Antonio Vivaldi’s most recent concertos, of which he soon made his own keyboard arrangements.  From this point onward, Vivaldi’s influence is evident in the clear melodic contours, rhythmic concision, unified motives, and clearly articulated modulation schemes of Bach’s compositions.

Bach was not alone in his enthusiasm for the Italian style.  In 1735, he published the second volume of his collection of keyboard works entitled Clavier-Übung.  This particular volume comprised two pieces, intended to be played on a harpsichord with two manuals, that were written in the wildly popular Italian and French styles.  In the three movements of the first work, the Concerto in the Italian Style, Bach imitated the Italian orchestral concerto—famous for its contrasts between different groups of instruments—by writing contrasting material for each of the harpsichord’s manuals.


 Guillermo Lago (b. 1960)

Ciudades (2011) 

Dutch saxophonist Willem van Merwijk discovered his talent for composing in 2006 while his saxophone quartet, the Aurelia Quartet, searched for repertoire to fill an upcoming concert of tango music.  For this program, van Merwijk decided to compose two tangos of his own using the Spanish pseudonym “Guillermo Lago.”  Since then, he has continued to compose as Lago, believing the name suits his music perfectly.

Between 2011 and 2015, Lago wrote six musical sketches of some of his favorite cities—Córdoba (Spain), Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Montevideo (Uruguay), Köln (Germany), and Tokyo (Japan)—and grouped them into a suite called Ciudades (Cities).  In Córdoba, Lago recreates the atmosphere of the town in southern Spain where he and his friends busked in front of the famous Mezquita.  Montevideo pays homage to “The Second Capital of Tango” with a ballad in the style of the Uruguayan milonga, a predecessor to the modern-day tango.  After collaborating with the popular Netherlands-based Ethiopian singer Minyeshu in 2007, Lago created Addis Ababa, an energetic portrait of Ethiopia’s capital.  Many of its rhythmic elements resemble those in Minyeshu’s music, and it was composed using a pentatonic scale native to Ethiopia: the anchihoye scale.



Russell Peck (1945-2009)

Drastic Measures (1975) 

Throughout his career, Russell Peck (1945-2009) received commissions from major symphony orchestras across the globe, and his music, which combined elements of the classical idiom with those of American pop, garnered many honors and awards.

About Drastic Measures, written for the New Century Saxophone Quartet in 1976, Peck writes:

“The first movement is slow, lyrical and polyphonic, highlighting the serious capabilities of the ensemble.  The virtuosic second movement is more blues, jazz, and rock-oriented, and highly energized, even including slap-tongue accents.  It’s also rhythmically complex.  What maintains the classical integrity of the piece despite the popular flavor is its tight formal coherence.  A three note motive heard as an accompaniment figure at the very opening of the first movement becomes the basis for the whole piece, reaching several climatic expressions in the second movement.”



Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts are made possible through the generosity of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council and the Union League Club of Chicago.
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts are presented in partnership with the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and 98.7 WFMT

Don’t miss Duo Dotto-Cho

next week on the

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts!

Wednesday May 26, 12:15pm

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