European Music Week in Riyadh
Arcis Saxophon Quartett
As part of the European Music Week in Riyadh, the Goethe-Institute presented a series of three mesmerizing concerts by the acclaimed Arcis Saxophon Quartett at the German School on November 13th. From the first note at 9:00 a.m. to the closing chord at 12:30 p.m., the audience was treated to a splendid showcase of European classical and contemporary music.
It's been over a decade now - 2008 to be precise - since four young students met at the University of Music in Munich. And it's located in... of course: Arcisstraße.
Who is actually Arcis?
As quickly as it was clear that they wanted to play together, the name was found. Many awards and competition wins later, they are now travelling the world to make Adolphe Sax's dream come true: That the saxophone would conquer the classical stages of this world. His dream became their dream.
Everyone agrees on their music. Except about the pronunciation of Arcis. They clarify: the people of Munich say [Artsis].
Soprano saxophone, founding member, managing director
Alto saxophone, founding member, managing director
Baritone saxophone, sound mixer arcis records
Interview with Claus Hierluksch
You are a musician, and a saxophonist at that. What is so great and special about your instrument?
The saxophone is a very special instrument: it was invented especially for classical music (jazz didn't exist back in 1846!), but then became famous in jazz, making it an exceptional talent and border crosser. Like a chameleon, it adapts to all styles and nuances of expression and can therefore delight fans of all musical genres.
And you are part of the Arcis Saxophone Quartet. Can you say something about how you found each other as musicians?
The answer to the question of how the four of us found each other is already hidden in our name. Anyone who has ever been to Munich may have discovered it: Arcisstraße, which gave the Arcis Saxophone Quartet its name 15 years ago. That's because the music academy where we all once studied is located there.
You have also toured abroad many times. Have you ever played in Arab countries and what was your experience there?
For 15 years, we have wanted to realise the vision of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of our instrument: That the saxophone conquers the classical stages of this world. And so we tour the whole world with our music. We have even been to Arab countries such as Bahrain (twice!) and Saudi Arabia. Or in countries with strong Arab influences, such as Algeria or Morocco.
It is always a wonder and a gift for us to see how openly and enthusiastically the Arab audience reacts to our music, which is quite unfamiliar at first. It is tangible proof that music, art and culture are our strongest means of cultural understanding, exchange and peace! Despite all the differences, the shared experience always takes centre stage and can be experienced and felt.
And you've already been to Saudi Arabia!
It will actually be our third time in Saudi Arabia. But it will certainly feel completely new again, just like the last two times. The country is developing at a rapid pace. You have to imagine: in 2017, during our first visit, there was no public music-making. In 2020 (days before the coronavirus shutdown, by the way!), we were suddenly able to give a spontaneous pop-up concert in a literary café. What can we expect this time?
The Arcis Saxophone Quartet also loves playing with children. There will also be a concert at the German School in Riyadh. Why is that important to you and what do you like about it?
We all have a love of music from an early age. And we want to pass that on. Contact with live music at an early age is so precious! And by the way, children are the best audience: free from any pigeonholing or even genre thinking and rigorously honest.
And finally: what is your favourite piece for saxophone?
I like so many things. Especially everything that is composed directly for us. The creative exchange with composers is beautiful like nothing else.
But, if I have to choose: The Trolley Song by Dave Brubeck. I can sing along note for note. Heard it a thousand times. But never played it...
European Music Week in RiyadhThe 1st European Music Week will be taking place from 11 to 20 November at the Saudi Music Hub in Riyadh. This cultural event is aimed at introducing the richness of the European musical scene to the local audience, highlighting EU’s cultural diversity and forging connections between European and Saudi music professionals.
All concerts will take place at the Saudi Music Hub and start at 20.00. To attend, prior registration is required. Check out the full program
The European Music Week is organised by the European Union Delegation to Saudi Arabia in collaboration with the Embassies of the EU Member States, Saudi Music Commission and the Saudi Music Hub.