The Conservatory welcomes a bass saxophone

ConservatoryAlumni & Friends, Music Performance: Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion

One serendipitous Facebook post began the path to great fanfare and celebration, as the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music now welcomes a bass saxophone to its collection of fine instruments.

Dr. Gabriel Piqué, Assistant Professor of Saxophone & Jazz Studies, began the process of acquiring a bass saxophone for the Conservatory’s saxophone studio over two years ago. With generous support from the Friends of the Conservatory, BW joined the waitlist for a new instrument from Selmer Paris, with an anticipated delivery date in 2023. Earlier this spring, however, Piqué was notified of significant factory delays that would extend the wait by 2-3 additional years.

In early June, a new pathway for bass saxophone ownership emerged. Dr. Timothy McAllister, Professor of Saxophone at the University of Michigan, listed his like new Selmer Paris Series II bass saxophone with Meridian Winds, a nationally recognized instrument store located near Lansing, MI. The music store’s Facebook listing touted the instrument as “an amazing opportunity” for an individual or university.

Piqué immediately contacted Kris Tabler-Nemeth, Assistant to the Dean of the Conservatory, to see if the purchase might be possible. Thanks to the Friends’ standing dedication to the purchase, as well as Tabler-Nemeth’s quick action, BW’s purchase offer was accepted. In their social media post celebrating the sale, Meridian Winds wrote:

“It didn’t take long for Dr. McAllister’s Selmer Bass Saxophone to be snatched up! Within 24 hours of listing it for sale, there were multiple prospective buyers. Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio (southwest of Cleveland) was the first to actually make a firm commitment and wasted no time in emailing a Purchase Order the next morning.”

Almost twice the size of the more familiar baritone (bari) saxophone, bass saxophones are a specialty instrument most typically utilized in chamber music. Piqué explained that acquiring this instrument allows BW to start its own saxophone ensemble, where students will gain experience with expanded repertoire. Many of the arrangements his students will now be able to learn originate from The Moanin’ Frogs, a celebrated saxophone sextet of which Piqué is a member. The sextet’s CD was recorded using the same instrument now owned by BW, adding yet another component to its laudatory provenance.

The Friends of the Conservatory have sponsored other instrument purchases in recent years, including a Vanderbilt Style 23 Natural Harp, a B&S F Tuba, and—in support of the Conservatory’s All-Steinway campaign—a Steinway Boston Upright Piano. The organization also funds awards for outstanding students, provides annual support to the Bach Festival, and assists with other Conservatory projects and needs.

Members of the Friends of the Conservatory, alongside Tabler-Nemeth and Dean Susan Van Vorst, met with Piqué to welcome the instrument to its new home. With great encouragement from the Friends to give the instrument a nickname, Piqué will be consulting with his saxophone students to find a suitable moniker for their new addition.

Written by Destinee Siebe '19
BW Conservatory of Music Concert Production & Scheduling Coordinator.

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