Eric Vasquez: Future Music Educator, Saxophonist and Concerto Competition Winner

Future music educator and jazz saxophonist, Eric Vasquez, is set to perform French composer Pierre-Max Dubois’ concerto for alto saxophone with the Kent State University Orchestra next month as the undergraduate winner of the annual concerto competition. Vasquez is a senior Music Education major at Kent State. 

Vasquez first knew he wanted to pursue music when his band director introduced him to a big band in Cleveland during his sophomore year of high school. He says, “That was my first professional gig, and I was the youngest person there. I was pretty intimidated, but the bandleader said I did a good job sight-reading the pieces and everything, and he asked me to come back!” Since then, Vasquez has grown to become a prominent jazz musician under the direction of renowned jazz saxophonists and KSU faculty members Bobby Selvaggio and Chris Coles. 

Vasquez hopes his performance with the orchestra demonstrates his skill as a classical musician as well. 

The first time Vasquez listened to the Dubois concerto, he thought, “This is beautiful. I want to play it. I don’t care how hard it is, I’m going to do it and try my best.” While the Dubois concerto is classical, not jazz, Eric and his Saxophone Professor, Dr. Noa Even, have worked to incorporate his own style. “The whole first two pages are almost just pure cadenza,” says Vasquez. “So, it’s totally different. And the way Noa always talks to me about it, you have to play this piece as if you were improvising, you can’t just play it straight and boring.”

Vasquez continues that Dr. Even has also encouraged him to experiment musically with different interpretations. “She would always talk about how you can release a note or release a phrase to make it more like a question or more like a statement type thing. She taught me that concept in this concerto.”

While this is his first time performing as a soloist with an orchestra, Vasquez says, “I’m really excited...This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The program also will include Stravinsky’s “The Firebird Suite”, Marquez’s “Danzon” No. 2, and Liszt’s “Totentanz” for piano and orchestra with soloist Gréta Pásztor, a graduate student at KSU. The performance, led by Dr. Jungho Kim, will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Fri., Feb. 14 in Cartwright Hall. Tickets are $8-$15, with free tickets for under 18s and full-time Kent Campus undergrads. Find more information and reserve yours in advance at


Written by: Alena Miskinis, Glauser School of Music Writing Intern

Contact for Media: Andrew Paa, Marketing Assistant or 330-672-0894

POSTED: Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - 4:42pm
UPDATED: Monday, February 3, 2020 - 1:17pm