Wilmington High School graduate Michael Sawzin first thought about playing the clarinet. But his sister Elizabeth advised him to go with the saxophone. Whether it was playing in the wind ensemble, jazz band, or the marching band, he’d be there performing.
After graduating from Wright State University, where he studied music education and saxophone performance, he went on to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. where he met three other saxophonists. The four discovered they all worked well together and in 2010 decided to form Project Fusion.
Consisting of Sawzin on tenor saxophone, Dannel Espinoza on soprano saxophone, Matthew Amedio on alto saxophone, and Matt Evans on baritone saxophone, they strive to entertain and inspire audiences as well as promote camaraderie among artists through unique collaborations, according to their website.
The group plays a combination of classic and jazz pieces, and have played works by Alexander Glazunov, David Maslanka, and George Gershwin — though Sawzin admits that he prefers the classic or contemporary repertoire.
“Once we got together we decided that we were going to try and do some competitions,” he said. “Our first year, it was funny, everything we applied to we got second place. It was frustrating but kind of cool at the same time. Then in the second year, we reapplied to other competitions and we won everything we applied for, which was cool,.”
Because of that, according to Sawzin, their presence became more well-known in the chamber music community. They started to get more attention in 2013 after they won a string of competitions, including the Grand Prize and Audience Award at the Plowman Chamber Music Competition.
While each member of the group lives in different parts of the country and that makes things a bit difficult, the group still performs together regularly throughout the year.
Sawzin, currently living in Chestertown, Maryland where he teaches music, says that the experience of performing with fellow musicians has been great. Sawzin said that one of the most rewarding parts of performing with the group is making an impact.
To Sawzin, making people want to consume more live music — whether it’s classic, jazz, or even rock ‘n roll — is very rewarding.
“If I was to compare performing for a grade school over a performance for a high-profile competition, I would say that playing for an audience that isn’t judging you is way more satisfying,” said Sawzin, “to make an impact on the field that will keep us moving forward.”
Sawzin’s one bit of advice to anyone interested in the arts is to never stop and to keep expanding your horizons.
“Going into art as a career you have to know that it’s not just about your art,” he said. “You have to know how the world works. You have to be thirsty for knowledge, never limit yourself. Not only are you going to be the artist, you’re also going to be the manager, your writer, you have to have great speaking skills, a good public appearance. There’s so much more to being a successful artist then just doing it well.”
Project Fusion is currently working on making a CD and will be performing at Florida Atlantic University this month.
For more information on the group, future performances, and on the members, check out their website Projectfusionsq.com.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574