Writing & Musings

Quirk; after the event

The Quirk quartet performed twice at the Saxophone Day, hosted by the University of Huddersfield and directed by Sarah Markham. The first concert was at 10:15 am in St. Paul's Hall, the second at 6:00 pm. In the later performance we were joined by Richard Ingham playing soprano saxophone, so in effect we became a quintet. We performed one of Richard's compositions; Pieces for five players.

I think it's pretty rare that the same quartet, plays the same composition, in the same performance space, exactly a year apart. The only difference being the guest saxophonists that joined the quartet.

This year; Richard Ingham, last year; Claude Delangle. From the quartet's point of view this was fascinating, Richard and Claude rehearsed and performed in completely different ways.

Claude took more of a solo role, taking time to experiment with the musical line and musical detail. In some ways Claude was working blind; there is little explanation as to the premise of the composition. Claude's interpretation was beautiful, French classical saxophone at its best. As expected, absolutely stunning.

We were surprised at how different Richard's interpretation was. Of course we should have expected it, he is the composer and 'inside' the music. He created the gestalt to be carried forward. His performance (apart from the cadenza solo passages) was less that of a soloist. His sound became part of the ensemble and revealed intricate textures and harmonic spacings, at times the Scottish influence came to the fore.

I recently read an interesting paper by Patricia Holmes discussing timbre as a conveyor of emotion. This year's performance seemed to resonate with that discussion. If you're interested here's the details of the article:

Holmes, P. A. (2012). An Exploration of Musical Communication Through Expressive Use of Timbre: The Performer's Perspective. Psychology of Music, 40(3), 301-323.

Dialogue de l’Ombre Double by Boulez at the Fifth Annual Saxophone Day

Sarah Markham is directing her fifth annual Saxophone Day at the University of Huddersfield on the 8th March. It's quite exciting, Richard Ingham (saxophone) and Pete Stollery (sound diffusion) will be performing Dialogue de l’Ombre Double by Boulez. There will be workshops and also a masterclass featuring University saxophonists. The Quirk saxophone quartet will make an appearance in the opening recital, which will also include Egyptian Wish, a trio for three soprano saxophones composed by Katy Abbott. This particular trio features a fair bit of synchronised glissandi....

The day starts at 10:00 am and finishes about 7:30 pm after the evening concert (6:00pm). There will be exhibitions by Yamaha, Vandoren, Selmer, D’Addario Woodwind, Yanagisawa and Windstruments; always good to try out the latest stuff.

Full details are on Sarah's website.

Show more posts

Subscribe to keep up to date with the Quirk ensemble, or saxophone compositions added to the site:

Kenneth Wilkinson


Feel free to use the contact form to discuss having lessons in my teaching studio (classical and jazz). An audio system is available to record and listen to material we study.


Workshops relate to, and improve, your instrumental performance. Recent workshop sessions include:

How do I sound like that?
An exploration of mouthpieces and reeds (classical and jazz), timbre and sound production.

A safe, non-threatening, comfortable approach to improvisation!

An introduction to jazz improvisation for (often anxious) players, with little or no experience.

Reed Alteration

A workshop demonstrating techniques to hone and fine tune your reeds.
Quirk Duo


The Quirk Duo is saxophonists Sarah Markham (Yamaha and Vandoren performing artist), and Kenneth Wilkinson. Between them they have a performing career spanning sixty years, enjoying many genres including solo recitals, opera, orchestral, jazz, pop and chamber music. The Quirk Duo is a distillation of those experiences, an exploration of possibilities.
Quirk Saxophone Quartet


The Quirk Saxophone Quartet is made up of like-minded saxophonists:

Sarah Markham - soprano
Kenneth Wilkinson - alto
Chris Jolly - tenor
Sarah Hind - baritone