The Tutunov Piano Series is pleased to present Tutunov & Friends featuring Fritz Gearhart, violin and Rhett Bender, saxophone together with Alexander Tutunov, piano on Friday, February 16, 2024. A livestream is available for this performance.
FRITZ GEARHART has performed for audiences from coast to coast. He has appeared in major halls around the country including the Kennedy Center, the 92nd Street Y in NYC, Alice Tully Hall, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie. He is heard frequently on National Public Radio, including live broadcasts on WFMT Chicago, WQXR in New York, KQAC in Portland Oregon, as well as Public Radio’s nationally syndicated program Performance Today. A sampling from the press: "...a sizzling performance..."(The Wall Street Journal), "...supple and imaginative..."(The New York Times), "...a superlative evening of musicmaking..."(New York Concert Review), and "Gearhart is a bold assertive player..."(Strad). Gearhart has had a rich career in chamber music performing, including membership in the Chester Quartet and the Oregon String Quartet which recorded compact discs for Albany, Koch Entertainment, Centaur Records. His 2014 release on Centaur Records, Music of a Lifetime, features the music of his father Livingston Gearhart. Mr. Gearhart has performed complete cycles of the Beethoven String Quartets and the Beethoven Violin Sonatas. Gearhart taught at the university level for most of his career, including appointments at University of Oregon, East Carolina University and Indiana University at South Bend. Gearhart has been a featured clinician at music conventions and workshops for National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Conference, American String Teachers Association (ASTA), and National School Orchestra Association (NSOA), and has presented master classes at music schools all around the country, including Texas Christian University, Boise State University, Ithaca College, UNC Greensboro, University of Oklahoma, Eastman School of Music, and the Hartt School, among many others. Gearhart was a judge for the National Fischoff Competition in 2008 and has been a featured clinician at several national conventions including ASTA in Detroit, Kansas City and Santa Clara, CA where he was also the featured chamber music coach. In addition to his many performing and teaching activities, Gearhart has also appeared as a guest conductor several string festivals around the country, including South Carolina All-State String Orchestra, Northern Virginia Honors Orchestra, Wyoming String Clinic, and All-City Strings in Salem, OR. Professor Gearhart has recently started a new nonprofit —the Redfish Music Festival, which presents a summer festival on the southern coast of Oregon, as well as special events throughout the year. Gearhart received his Master's Degree and prestigious Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with Donald Weilerstein. Earlier studies at the Hartt School included work with Charles Treger and members of the Emerson Quartet. Mr. Gearhart currently resides in Sacramento, California. He continues teaching and performing, and currently takes a few select students through the Sacramento Institute for Music and Arts.
RHETT BENDER, a remarkable saxophonist and educator, has left an indelible mark on the world of music through his extraordinary talent and unwavering passion for his craft. As a founding member and soprano saxophonist of the Globe Saxophone Quartet, Bender has garnered international recognition for his exceptional artistry. A pivotal figure in the saxophone music scene, Bender serves as the Artistic Director for the renowned Siskiyou Saxophone Orchestra, showcasing his leadership skills and dedication to promoting the saxophone. He also contributes his virtuosity to the symphony orchestras: Rogue Valley Symphony, Britt Festival Symphony, and Sunriver Festival Orchestras, captivating audiences with his brilliant performances.
Bender's impact extends far beyond the U.S., as he frequently tours international stages as a Guest Artist-Teacher. His invaluable expertise and guidance have been sought after by institutions such as the Sichuan Conservatory of Classical Music, where he is a frequent visitor, and the College of Arts of Yantai University, where he holds the position of Visiting Professor. Additionally, Bender serves as an Honorary Advisor to the Chengdu Saxophone Society and a Guest Artist for the Yantai Children's Palace of Music and Art, inspiring young musicians and sharing his musical knowledge.
Having devoted 27 years to teaching at Southern Oregon University (SOU), Bender's commitment to education is truly commendable. In fact, he holds the distinction of being the youngest full-time Music professor ever hired by the institution, starting at the age of 27. His impact as an educator extends beyond the university walls, with numerous accolades and recognitions attesting to his pedagogical excellence. His innovative approach to chamber music education, as showcased in the Ashland Chamber Music Workshop, garnered attention in Strings Magazine, highlighting his ability to foster creativity and collaborative spirit.
Bender's contributions to the saxophone community are not limited to his performances and teaching endeavors. His passion for research and writing led him to publish the book, An Annotated Bibliography of American Saxophone Quartets, which has become a valuable resource for musicians. He has also been featured in the Saxophone Journal, where he graced the cover as a prominent saxophonist and shared his insights and experiences.
Rhett Bender's talent as a soloist and clinician has taken him to prestigious events and conferences worldwide. He has performed and presented masterclasses at the World Saxophone Congresses, Montana Saxophone Festival, and the North American Saxophone Alliance. Notably, his exceptional skills led him to win first prize in the Frances Walton Competition for classical musicians in 1998, solidifying his place among the finest saxophonists of his generation. Beyond his remarkable achievements, Bender's collaborations and engagements have allowed him to travel extensively. His performances have graced audiences in Australia, Canada, China, Croatia, France, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, Scotland, and Slovenia.
Rhett Bender is a Selmer Saxophone Artist-Clinician and Artist-in-Residence at Southern Oregon University showcasing his dedication to excellence in saxophone performance. He holds degrees from both Iowa State University and the University of Georgia, where he was a student of Kenneth Fischer.
Friday, February 16, 2024 at 7:30pm to 9:30pm
SOU Music Recital Hall, 114
450 S Mountain Ave Ashland, OR 97520