Barkada Quartet

Barkada Photo 1

Perry Roth, tenor • Shane Rathburn, alto • Justin Polyblank, baritone • Christopher Elchico, soprano

Said to display “virtuosity of the utmost distinctive order” (Splash Magazine), Barkada Quartet is the first saxophone quartet to capture the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition’s coveted Grand Prize by winning all five rounds of competition.

Formed in 2011 at the Indiana University Bloomington Jacobs School of Music (JSoM), Barkada Quartet’s individual members share a friendship and musical camaraderie of such strength that their performances are said to be reminiscent of “watching a group of men having a chat at the water cooler.” With each passing season, the Quartet pursues increasingly ambitious projects aimed towards establishing an approach to chamber music that emphasizes the creative power of social interaction and interdisciplinary collaboration.

As a performance ensemble, Barkada Quartet has achieved international recognition, having performed over 50 engagements in Italy, Japan, and 12 states in the contiguous U.S. Writing for the Portland, ME Press Herald, former New York Times music critic and culture writer, Allan Kozinn, stated that the members of the quartet “approach their work with the energy of a jazz ensemble and, when they are at their best, the suppleness of a string quartet.” The Quartet was one of just four American chamber ensembles invited to participate in the open division of the 8th Osaka International Chamber Music Competition & Festa in May 2014. Barkada Quartet released their debut, self-produced album, Aventura, in October 2014 during their five-day residency at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). Recorded in May 2014, Aventura is a collection of original works for saxophone quartet by composers David Maslanka, David Salleras Quintana, and David Werfelmann—each of which played a significant role in Barkada’s development as a chamber ensemble.

Barkada Quartet’s 2017 performance schedule continues to highlight works from their first major collaborative project, informally titled Root Movement. This collection of new chamber works for saxophone quartet emphasizes artistic collaboration with friends, colleagues, and mentors located in regions one might consider to be the musical “roots” of the ensemble and its individual members. What originally began in 2015 as a collection of seven works by current and former JSoM students and faculty expanded in fall 2016 to include a new quintet for saxophone quartet and piano written by IUP professor of music theory & composition, Dr. David Martynuik. Quintet No. 2 “Sierra Vita” became the centerpiece of a series of concert performances throughout the Northeast with pianist and fellow JSoM alum Anastasia Antonacos. The original collection of Root Movement quartets was premiered in 2015 during concerts at major universities in Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. These works by composers Elliott Bark, David Dzubay, Luke Ellard, Robert Esrock, John Leszczysnki, Eric Lindsay, and Gabriel Lubell represent six years of relationships developed in Bloomington, Indiana from 2009-15.

In keeping with their dedication to cultivating new music, Barkada Quartet participated in the first major commission from a consortium of American saxophone quartets. Known among one another as the “Saxophone Seven,” this network of young, up-and-coming chamber ensembles hopes to develop a tradition of annually contributing a new work to the saxophone repertory; beginning with individual premieres of internationally renowned composer Marc Mellits’ Ex Machina in 2017.

Above all, Barkada Quartet seeks to remind its listeners that chamber music is known historically as “the music of friends.” It is the Quartet’s hope that continuing to present virtuosic and carefree public performances, thoughtful artist-composer collaborations, and meaningful educational outreach to its audiences will motivate others to explore chamber music in a way that will carry on this tradition.

Barkada Quartet is Christopher Elchico (soprano saxophone), Shane Rathburn (alto saxophone), Perry Roth (tenor saxophone), and Justin Polyblank (baritone saxophone)

Past Members include Steven Lawhon and Martí Comas