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PULSE, IPR's ensemble-in-residence, wins top chamber music festival prize

Whether it was at the Dairy Lodge in Traverse City, at Bier's Inwood Brewery in Charlevoix or in the Bud's drive-through window here in Interlochen, you may have heard IPR's Sound Garden Project ensemble-in-residence, PULSE last summer.

The saxophone quartet will be back in residence this year - this time, as first prize winners in the prestigious NOLA Chamber Fest's performing artists division.

Pulse Quartet members pose with their saxophones in front of Dairy Lodge in Traverse City

PULSE members Zachary Costello, Luke Haight, Owen Robinson and Michael Ethier are all students of MSU Professor of Saxophone and Chair of Woodwinds Joseph Lulloff.

Their winning program included Gemma Peacocke's "Hazel," "Pypes" from William Albright's "Fantasy Etudes" and Eugene Bozza's "Andante et Scherzo."

The saxophone, invented in 1846, is new compared to other classical instruments, and doesn't have the advantages that come with centuries-long pedagogical traditions.

But PULSE's win marks another success for the instrument as saxophone quartets across the world prove to be top contenders in major chamber music competitions.

"We work hard to compete with the delicacy and detail that you see in string quartets while still trying to show off what the saxophone can do," the group says.

As part of their prize, PULSE will have the opportunity to perform in a masterclass with the M-Prize-winning and Grammy-nominated Aizuri Quartet later in the festival.

Every year, chamber ensembles from across the United States flock to NOLA Chamber Fest, put on by Lyrica Baroque, New Orleans Friends of Music and the University of New Orleans.

Past winners have gone on to win top prizes at the Fischoff, Plowman and Music Teachers National Association chamber music competitions.

Eugene Bozza - Andante et Scherzo

PULSE will be back in northern Michigan from June 12-25 for the Sound Garden Project residency at IPR, in partnership with the Glen Arbor Arts Center and Manitou Music Festival. Stay tuned for more details.

Kacie Brown was IPR's Digital Content Manager until 2023.