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Iridium Quartet plays at Cathedral of St. John

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Iridium Quartet will reign at the Cathedral of St. John on Friday in a selection of music ranging from classical to contemporary.

The saxophone musicians have been together for six years, although they’ve performed in various iterations for more than a decade, baritone sax player and University of New Mexico music professor Eric Lau said. The group features soprano saxophonist Paul Nolen, tenor sax player Paul Forsyth and alto sax player Marcos Colón, as well as Lau.

The program spans five pieces, opening with “Quartette” (1879) by Caryl Florio. This traditional tonal music was one of the first works written for saxophone quartet, Lau said.

Peter Lieuwen’s “Skylines” (2014) is considerably more modern.

“It’s kind of a perpetual motion kind of piece,” Lau said. “It’s fast; it’s very accessible – kind of minimalistic.”

The quartet commissioned the piece from the Texas A&M composer.

Robert Smith rewrote his “Morse Code Pop” (1993/2016) specifically for saxophones.

“He tries to make it sound like Morse Code, so it sounds like dots and dashes, then builds into melodies,” Lau said.

“Little Boxes” (2013), by Roy D. Magnuson, is perhaps the most playful piece on the program. The composer based it on a folk song with a series of variations.

“You have all the things in the little boxes, and there are different things you find; different styles,” Lau said. “One of them is titled ‘Wedding in a Hurricane.’ One is called ‘Saucy Box’ with a blues theme; one is a lot of smaller bees attacking a larger bee.”

The Iridium Quartet received a prestigious Aaron Copland Fund Recording Grant, allowing the group to record a selection of new American music, “Into Xylonia.” The group has performed widely throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the British Isles.

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