Composers Festival spotlight: DRAX

Formed in fall 2014, DRAX is the newest faculty ensemble-in-residence at the University of Missouri, and they’ll be making their Mizzou International Composers Festival debut as guest artists for the “Mizzou New Music” concert on Friday, July 24 at the Missouri Theatre.

As the latest addition to the growing new music scene at Mizzou, the duo of percussionist Megan Arns and saxophonist Leo Saguiguit intends to explore the existing repertoire for saxophone and percussion duo as well as commission new works.

They’ve already made their its international debut at the 2015 World Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg, France, and also have performed at the North American Saxophone Alliance Region 4 Conference in Norman, Oklahoma, and the Missouri Percussive Arts Society’s Day of Percussion.

Although their collaboration is relatively new, both members of DRAX have been involved in the creation and performance of new music throughout their respective careers.

Megan Arns recently joined the music faculty of the University of Missouri as an assistant teaching professor of percussion. She has performed with the contemporary chamber groups [Switch~ Ensemble] and What is Noise as well as with a number of symphony orchestras, and also has extensive experience in the field of marching percussion.

An advocate for the creation of new music, Arns has been involved in co-commissioning and premiering works by notable composers such as John Luther Adams, Alejandro Viñao, Halim El-Dahb, Steven Snowden, Adam Silverman, David Skidmore, Ivan Trevino and Brian Nozny.

She earned performance degrees from Florida State University and Truman State University; an M.A. in ethnomusicology from the Eastman School of Music, and currently is a candidate for a D.M.A. in percussion performance and literature.

Leo Saguiguit serves as associate professor of saxophone at the University of Missouri, and also enjoys a busy schedule performing as a soloist and chamber musician and presenting master classes and lectures throughout the United States and abroad.

In addition to DRAX, he performs with the Athens (Greece) Saxophone Quartet, Chicago Saxophone Quartet, Missouri Saxophone Quartet, Trio Chymera, and the Odyssey Chamber Music Series of Columbia.

Saguiguit has appeared as concerto soloist with numerous orchestras and wind ensembles, and has performed regularly as an orchestral saxophonist with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Milwaukee Symphony, Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Florida Orchestra, and Missouri Symphony.

He has earned degrees from Emory University and Northwestern University, and has recorded CDs with the Athens Quartet, Impuls Quartet, Chromos Quartet, and the wind ensemble Philharmonia à Vent.

(While DRAX has yet to be captured on video – no, not that Drax, this DRAX – you can see separate performances involving Leo Saguiguit and Megan Arns in the embedded YouTube players below.)

Leo Saguiguit plays “Attila” by Mizzou alumnus Patrick David Clark in July 2012 at the World Saxophone Congress, accompanied by pianist Rachel Aubuchon

Megan Arns performs in the St. Louis celebration of ‘A Worldwide Day of In C,” held December 21, 2014 to mark 50 years of Terry Riley’s pioneering minimalist work