Composers Festival spotlight: DRAX

DRAX, the duo of percussionist Megan Arns and saxophonist Leo Saguiguit, will return to the Mizzou International Composers Festival this year as guest artists for the “Mizzou New Music” concert on Friday, July 28 at the Missouri Theatre.

They’ll perform “Where Are Our Mothers/We Don’t Have Enough Time” by 2011 MICF resident composer Steve Snowden, and “Tantrums,” a world premiere that they commissioned from 2012 MICF resident composer Asha Srinivasan.

Formed in fall 2014 to explore the existing repertoire for saxophone and percussion duo and to commission new works, DRAX (pictured) made their MICF debut at the 2015 festival, performing new music including a piece commissioned from Mizzou alumnus and 2014 MICF resident composer Jose Martinez.

Recent performances include a concert for the Odyssey Chamber Music Series in December 2016, and an appearance at the 2017 North American Saxophone Alliance Region IV Conference in Oklahoma City, where they played new works by Mizzou student composer Aaron Mencher and Steve Snowden.

DRAX made their 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.

Both members of DRAX have multi-faceted careers as performers, teachers, and advocates for new music. Megan Arns is an assistant teaching professor of percussion at Mizzou who also has performed with the contemporary chamber groups [Switch~Ensemble] and What is Noise and with a number of symphony orchestras.

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 at Eastman.

Leo Saguiguit serves as associate professor of saxophone at the University of Missouri, and in 2016 was one of eight recipients of the university’s Faculty-Alumni Award. He 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.

DRAX performs “Burn” (2016) by Nathan Daughtrey and “Greensleeves” (traditional, arr. Mark Hanson), recorded December 2, 2016 at First Baptist Church in Columbia, MO