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Ouachita Saxophone Quartet earns second prize in international competition

By Felley Lawson 
OBU News Bureau

ARKADELPHIA — The Ouachita Saxophone Quartet has earned second prize in the Eighth Annual ENKOR International Chamber Music Competition based on video submissions of their performances of “Histoire du Tango” by Astor Piazzolla and “Volcanic Ash” by Chris Evan Haas. 

Saxophone Quartet members (from left) Craig Crawford, Cross Brandon, Katelyn Still and Graham Scarborough

“I could not be more proud of the progress these four students have made,” said Dr. Caroline Taylor, professor of music at Ouachita, “their dedication to pushing one another to perform challenging literature and the way they have represented Ouachita to audiences far beyond our campus.”  

Quartet members are Cross Brandon, a senior music industry major from Little Rock, on baritone saxophone; Craig Crawford, a senior instrumental music performance major from Texarkana, Texas, on soprano saxophone; Graham Scarborough, a senior instrumental music education major from West Monroe, La., on tenor saxophone; and Katelyn Still, a senior instrumental music education major from Benton, on alto saxophone. They were notified of their win on Feb. 10. 

“I was very honored to be in this competition and to play with these wonderful musicians,” Still said. “This experience pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me a better player.” 

Brandon noted, “We are absolutely thrilled and honored to receive second prize in the ENKOR Competition. Each of us worked really hard to create a legitimate quartet sound, and this award is proof of that achievement.” 

The ENKOR International Music Competition is open to performers from all over the world. Submissions are judged by a board of 500 jurors from more than 70 countries on six continents. The chamber music division is open to groups of two to eight performers; Ouachita’s Saxophone Quartet competed in Category B for ensembles in which members’ average age is 25 and younger. To prepare for the competition, the Saxophone Quartet chose their repertoire during the Spring 2021 semester. They learned their individual parts during the summer and met two to three times a week for practice during the fall. Their submission was recorded during a two-day session in November. 

“While the recognition and second prize award are exciting, the most rewarding part of this entire process was seeing the musical and artistic growth achieved by these four musicians,” Taylor said. They learned how to be responsible for their individual parts and how to work together as an ensemble to produce a cohesive sound and musical approach. 

“This experience has most definitely stretched them as musicians by requiring them to master incredibly difficult music while constantly communicating and adapting their performance in response to other quartet members,” she added. “These skills are simply not achieved anywhere else in the music education curriculum, so I am proud of their dedication and commitment to making the decision to pursue their musical goals as a quartet.” 

For more information, contact Dr. Caroline Taylor at taylorc@obu.edu or at (870) 245-5139. 

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