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Touring musicians perform at home

Three years ago local musicians Rhett Bender, clarinet and saxophone; Jody Schmidt, horn; and Alexander Tutunov, piano; began performing together as the Trillium Ensemble.

The group has performed at the University of Iowa for the Saxophone Alliance, in Slovenia for the 14th World Saxophone Congress, and in Chengdu, China, last spring, and is now performing its first concert in Ashland. The Southern Oregon University Department of Music will present Trillium Ensemble at 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14, at SOU Music Recital Hall, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

Joining the trio will be flutist Debra Harris. The chamber music concert will feature music by Carl Reinecke, Jean Hubeau, Carleton Macy and George Gershwin.

On his third visit to the Sichuan Conservatory of Music, Bender, who is associate professor of music at SOU, toured and performed with the Saxophone Orchestra of Sichuan under the direction of Professor Li Yushen. Also joining the tour was Schmidt, who is executive director of Chamber Music Concerts at SOU. From May 20 through June 4, the entourage traveled by air, train and bus to perform in Chongqing, Guiyang, Chengdu and Yibin. Bender conducted the saxophone orchestra and performed solo saxophone. During the day he and Li Yushen gave master-classes and participated in panel discussions on "The Saxophone in China" and "Western Music in China."

In Guiyang, at the request of a general who is the director of the Army Base Band, Bender and Schmidt visited an army base of the People's Republic of China. They arrived to a full-army parade salute, witnessed martial arts training and listened to the band perform. Both then conducted master classes for members of the army band. Upon returning to Chengdu, Bender and Schmidt were joined by SOU faculty pianist Tutunov and the trio performed a recital at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music.

This October, Bender will bring Southern Oregon University's Siskiyou Saxophone Orchestra of 12 students and faculty to China to perform in Yantai and Shanghai. He will conduct the orchestra and perform as soprano saxophonist with the Siskiyou Saxophone Quartet.

The trip is sponsored by instrument manufacturers in China. Tutunov will bring two young pianists from China to perform at the Craterian Theater in Medford in February, and in May he will return as co-director of an International Piano Festival in Chengdu.

Tickets for the Jan. 14 concert are $12 for general admission. Students will be admitted free. Tickets are available at the SOU music box office. See www.sou.edu/music or call 552-6101.

The Trillium Ensemble, left to right, Alexander Tutunov, piano; Rhett Bender, clarinet and saxophone; and Jody Schmidt, horn; have performed in China. Photo courtesy of Southern Oregon University