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Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Linda Cajigas
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Friday, May 18, 2012

Jacobs School student ensemble wins 2012 Fischoff Competition

May 18, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Barkada Saxophone Quartet, an ensemble of students in the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, has won the 2012 Fischoff Competition, a chamber music contest that included 48 ensembles from across the United States. The quartet also received the gold medal in the Senior Wind Division. Prizes received from the competition amount to $10,500.

Members of the Barkada Saxophone Quartet, from left: Justin Polyblank, Christopher Elchico, Marti Comas and Steven Lawhon.

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Members of the saxophone ensemble are Christopher Elchico (soprano), Marti Comas (alto), Steven Lawhon (tenor) and Justin Polyblank (baritone). All study with associate professor Otis Murphy.

The win came as a surprise to the instrumentalists, who just formed the ensemble in September.

"When our name was announced as the grand prize winner, it was like all of the air and the sound had been sucked out of the room," Polyblank said. "I don't remember walking on stage, and I don't remember getting the medal put around my neck. The only thing that I really remember from those first few moments is the four of us holding hands and bowing over and over again."

Watch a video interview with the Barkada Saxophone Quartet as they returned to Bloomington following their win.

"The Barkada Quartet exhibits a unique sense of respect, trust and camaraderie that defines its sense of oneness as a chamber ensemble," Murphy said. "Its success at the Fischoff competition is a major feat and very encouraging. Each member is a solid, well-grounded individual, and this success invigorates their commitment to the performance of chamber music. Of course, I am so very proud of Barkada, but I also am proud of every student in my studio. Each of them contributes so much, and I know that the members of Barkada have appreciated the entire studio's genuine support and friendship through the year. We all reach out to congratulate them."

Additional Jacobs School-related ensembles at the Fischoff competition this year included the Telsa Quartet, with doctoral violinist Michelle Lie (a student of Mark Kaplan), which won the gold medal in the Senior String Division. The Formosa Trio, composed of Jacobs students Tze-Ying Wu, viola (a student of Atar Arad); Pei-San Chiu, flute (a student of Thomas Robertello); and Joy Yeh, harp (a student of Susann McDonald), competed in the semifinal round of the Senior String Division.

About the Barkada Quartet
The Barkada Quartet began as a student chamber ensemble during Fall 2011. Comprising current and former students of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, the quartet seeks to blend the colors and subtlety of traditional chamber ensembles with the flexibility and power of the saxophone.

The word "barkada" comes from the Filipino language Tagalog. It is a noun signifying "a group of friends" or "a form of family," and the Barkada Quartet began as a friendship, rather than an objective.

Through their interest in culturally grounded repertoire, curiosity in exploring the homogenous and heterogeneous blending of musical colors and, above all, continual strengthening of their friendship outside of the rehearsal space, the quartet hopes to remind listeners of all ages that chamber playing began as a means of friends and family to share the beauty of music with one another.

Elchico, originally from Santa Clarita, Calif., attended UCLA, completing a degree in saxophone performance. He is pursuing a Master of Music degree in saxophone performance.

Comas is a native of Terrassa, Spain, and decided to travel from his small city just outside Barcelona after being inspired by recordings of Jacobs professor Murphy. He recently completed his sophomore year of studies in saxophone performance.

Lawhon is originally from Knoxville, Tenn., and will begin his senior year of study in saxophone performance this fall.

Polyblank attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he completed a degree in music education. A former associate instructor of saxophone, he graduated in May 2012 from Jacobs with a master's degree in saxophone performance and jazz studies.