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ROVA Turns 25

The Rova Saxophone quartet will celebrate its 25th anniversary with two Bay Area concert programs presented by Rova:Arts. To be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum in San Francisco, each of the concerts will showcase the saxophone quartet in collaboration with renowned Japanese composers and improvisers. The first concert, “Rovate,” is scheduled for Oct. 11 and 12 at 8 p.m. and will feature the works of pianist/composer Satoko Fujii and her husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura.

Rova:Arts has commissioned Fujii to write a new work for saxophone quartet for this show. She and Rova saxophonist Steve Adams will both write pieces for an extended Orkestrova ensemble, featuring Fujii, Tamura, and other Bay area, improvising musicians. Two pieces by Fujii for piano and violin will also be performed (with violinist Carla Kihlstedt). The second concert, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Rova’s first public performance in February 1978, will be a salute to two of the quartet’s biggest influences, John Coltrane and Steve Lacy. Japanese guitarist and turntablist Otomo Yoshihide and guitarists Nels Cline and Fred Frith will join the quartet on this concert. The group will be interpreting Coltrane’s “Ascension” and Lacy’s “Saxophone Special.” Commemorative performances of works from throughout Rova’s 25-year career will also be performed.

The Bay area-based Rova saxophone quartet began its career in 1978 and has put out more than two-dozen recordings in its 25-year history. With the exception of one personnel change (founding member Andrew Voigt left in 1988 and was replaced by Steve Adams), Rova has been comprised of the same lineup of saxophonists Jon Raskin, Larry Ochs (pictured) and Bruce Ackley. Focusing on experimental and improvised music, the group has performed works by its own members as well as those of other new-music composers, has received several Meet the Composer commissions, and has toured extensively throughout North America, Europe, and the former Soviet Union.

Rova: Arts was incorporated in 1985 and is the nonprofit umbrella organization of the Rova Saxophone Quartet. It is devoted to “extending the leading edge of musical expression and related artistic disciplines.” Rova: Arts administers the ensemble’s activities, presents work by other forward-looking artists, commissions new works by established and emerging composers, and furthers the public’s understanding of adventurous art through education and outreach.

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Originally Published