Leaving Tuesday for the Midwest Clinic, one of the largest international music conferences in the world, the Reagan Quid Nunc Saxophone Quartet will play with the stars. The ensemble, started only two years ago by a group of students, has won several competitions and worked to earn the prestigious honor of playing at the Clinic in Chicago.
The group began with four students who wanted to play for fun. Since then they improved to the point of travelling to compete and perform. The current members include senior and original member Bryant Anderson, juniors Nick Koutras and Joshua Milford Arzales, and sophomore Ryan Montemayor. Although it’s not the only saxophone quartet, Quid Nunc is at the top of its game.
“There’s some that just do it for fun and play pop songs, and there’s actually another one that our band director’s putting together that’s like a second quartet to get new members in training, ” tenor player Anderson said. “We’re kind of like the varsity group if you think of it like that.”
The band has had saxophone quartets as well, but Quid Nunc was the first one to take its playing beyond UIL.
“Two years ago, for our first competition, we went to the Houston Underground Saxophone Quartet Competition, which is the biggest high school saxophone ensemble contest in the country, and we came in third place,” White said. “Since then we’ve also competed at UIL Region and State Solo & Ensemble where we’ve gotten superior divisions. Last year we also won the Inaugural Margaret Tobin fame awards where we were given a $2000 grant as a prize.”
These honors clearly didn’t come without effort.
“We practiced a lot over the summer and we made a class for it, so that we could be practicing for it every day,” alto player Milford Arzales said. “We made that class be right after lunch, so we could take part of our lunch to practice also.”
Members know what they’re getting into when they join the quartet. The extensive rehearsals are a natural part of having a strong group.
“When we work on our quartet during class, that’s us as a quartet, so we work together as an ensemble to make ourselves better. But the individual work, like getting the technique down, you have to do that all by yourself, so you have to go home and do that, and a lot of times we’ll have gigs, or the band director will have us come in for a four hour rehearsal on Saturday,” Anderson said. “It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it.”
After an arduous application process, the group was officially invited to the Midwest Clinic in early 2015.
“Midwest is one of those things where when you’re a high school band, you always submit to it, and you’re like ‘why not,’ but no one ever gets admitted,” Anderson said. “We’re only the second group in San Antonio to ever be invited in all 70 years of this competition.”
The clinic is a unique combination of music from around the world.
“Midwest is essentially the Superbowl of all band things. It has college level, middle school level, high school level. The purpose of it is to showcase new types of music, so they bring in bands of all different ages and whatnot,” Anderson said. “It’s basically anybody in the band world who people think are doing great things and they want to spread to other people.”
Quid Nunc has big plans for its performance at Midwest.
“We’ll be playing everything we’ve been working on, which is an hour long feature concert, it’s about 45 minutes of music plus transition times,” White said. “We’ll be premiering two brand new pieces of music that were written for us, and we’ll also be playing with a guest artist, a professional saxophone quartet that just won the national chamber competition will be joining us for a couple of pieces as well, so it’ll be fun.”
On top of playing specially-commissioned music and listening to unique pieces at the clinic, the group won’t miss out on Chicago’s many entertainment opportunities.
“We’re going to go see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra do Handel’s Messiah at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, and then we’re also going to do some fun stuff like going to see a Chicago Bull’s game and going to Navy Pier and Wills Tower and Millennium Park, so it should be a good, well-rounded trip.”
As Quid Nunc takes off, White doesn’t forget the people that have made everything possible.
“I’m really thankful to Mrs. Shelton and the administration for the support they’ve given us, and the students,” White said. “The parents have a put in a lot of time and effort and I couldn’t be more happy to get the chance to work with them.”