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“Game Night” with the Zenith Quintet
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 • Posted January 27, 2014

As part of its Outside the Music Box series, Blanco Performing Arts is pleased to present The Zenith Quintet in concert on February 1 at 7:30 in the Uptown Blanco Ballroom. Zenith is an electro-acoustic project created by award-winning saxophonists Rami El-Farrah, Sunil Gadgil, Michael Hertel, and Spencer Nielsen of the Bel Cuore Quartet and pianist Carla McElhaney of REVEL. When this group first came together at a performance for saxophone quartet and piano at the University of Texas at San Antonio they realized their common imagining of moving audiences upward and forward in this sky’s-the-limit collaboration. Now in its first full performing season, Zenith re-imagines masterworks and actively pursues progressive composers to create new works for their unique configuration. In their program in Blanco, Zenith will put a new spin on “game night” with an eclectic program all about musical games, including fugues, concertos, minimalism, programmatic music, man vs. machine and much more! Music includes works by Piazzola and Vivaldi as well as Srinivasan, Mellits, Bramwell, Wilson and Aerosmith.

Carla McElhaney is known to Blanco audiences as the pianist for REVEL, the classical band which has been voted audience favorite in their three seasons with Blanco Performing Arts. Nominated for “Best Classical Instrumentalist of 2011-2012” by the Austin Critics’ Table, McElhaney’s playing has been lauded by the Austin Chronicle as exhibiting “…an exciting mix of focus and passion”.

The saxophonists of Zenith all received their doctorates in saxophone performance from the University of Texas at Austin and have performed and recorded with the renowned University of Texas Wind Ensemble. Rami El-Farrah, soprano saxophonist originally from San Diego, California, is fluent in the performance of both jazz and classical saxophone having won many awards and scholarships in his pursuit of his music degrees. He currently teaches at UT.

Dr. Sunil Gadgil has performed with Conspirare, REVEL, and numerous saxophone ensembles both nationally and internationally and currently teaches at Praire View A&M. His solo sopranino, soprano, alto, and tenor saxophone playing can be heard on several CD releases on the Naxos, Crystal and Longhorn Music labels.

Dr. Michael Hertel has performed in Texas and Europe with various wind ensembles and at the World Saxophone Congress XV in Bangkok, Thailand with The Tipping Point Saxophone Trio. As part of the University of Texas Jazz Orchestra he premiered the completed version of Duke Ellington’s opera Queenie Pie.

Dr. Spencer Nielsen has a reputation as a versatile and skilled craftsman on both the national and international stage. His performances have earned him widespread praise including Austin Critics Circle nominations for Best Classical Ensemble (2011 and 2012) and also Best Chamber Performance. Dr. Nielsen is the founder and curator of After Hours Austin, a concert series that promotes new audiences to appreciate music inspired by local businesses/attractions.

Tickets are still available either online at or by calling 830-385-1173.

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