The Asylum Quartet live at the Boston Athenaeum

Before last night, I had never been to a place with a fraction in the address. The Boston Athenaeum is located at ten and a half Beacon Street — last night the gallery/library played host to an energetic live concert from Hartford, CT locals The Asylum Quartet.

Asylum is comprised of four of Hartford’s eminent young saxophone players, Joseph Abad, soprano saxophone; Tony Speranza, alto saxophone; Max Schwimmer, tenor saxophone; and Andrew Barnhart, baritone saxophone.


The large audience was captivated by the performance of their energetic and varied “American Icons” program. Alan Thomas’s “Homage to Elliott Smith” was a celebration of the late pop-genius; the piece was adeptly performed by the ensemble keeping both the classical idiom and Smith’s pop sensibilities in mind. 


Philip Glass’ “String Quartet No.5” arranged for sax quartet by Asylum’s own Max Schwimmer, was the longest and most formidable piece in the set. The technical skill and endurance of the group was put to the test by this melodic and demanding work. The end result was a triumphant performance.


PARMA composer Dr. Ryan Jesperson was also featured in the program. The quartet performed excerpts from a commissioned piece entitled “For Sounds in Winter Nights.” The names of the movements in the piece are all borrowed from works by Henry David Thoreau. I believe that this piece will be remembered as a definitive work in the canon of Asylum — their independent minded and self-reliant approach to a classical ensemble seems to fall very much in line with Thoreau’s transcendental philosophy.   


The Asylum Quartet stunned the Athenaeum last night. I suggest that you see this group live if you have the chance, their vibrant energy captures a crowd. This won’t be the last time you hear about The Asylum Quartet, I guarantee it.


Find out more about Asylum Quartet on their website: http://www.asylumquartet.com/

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