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A merry dance

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In tandem Claudia Schaetzle and Monique de Margerie.
In tandem Claudia Schaetzle and Monique de Margerie.

Meet musicians Claudia Schaetzle and Monique de Margerie.

Musicians Claudia Schaetzle and Monique de Margerie met only a year ago but they feel they have been performing together all their lives. This saxophone-piano duo recently presented The Dancing Saxophone on Canada’s National Day at India International Centre. The High Commission of Canada and Delhi Music Society helped bring the show to Delhi. With pieces from 20th century composers like Jacques Ibert and André Jolivet the repertoire for the evening was intentionally light. But it also included archetypal pieces from composer Claude Debussy’s collection.

Claudia explains, “I put together pieces that work for the saxophone and the piano. The name The Dancing Saxophone itself suggests that the music is more in a dance style. It has something everyone would like to listen to.” For the musicians it is important to pick pieces that stimulate and challenge both equally. Monique, the pianist, says, “We think of it more as chamber music. The part of the piano is as important as that of the saxophone.” She adds, “For me it was like playing for a singer. I find it difficult to play with most saxophone players, as their sound must go with mine. For us it’s about creating an atmosphere. It’s not about just accompanying each other.” For Montreal-based Claudia it is important to show that the saxophone repertoire extends beyond jazz, as it pre-dates jazz.

“Jazz started in the 1900’s but the saxophone was invented in 1842 by Adolphe Sax,” she explains, adding, “it was invented for military music but actually it has a very soft character. It has the power of brass but the softness of a string instrument.” Because of this versatility, the sax is a fine instrument for both jazz and classical compositions. Claudia appreciates both forms but believes classical sax needs more attention.

Not wanting to be misunderstood, Claudia adds, “I do love jazz but then I discovered classical saxophone and was just mesmerised. I feel it’s my mission to introduce audiences to it.” She has been playing the sax since she was a schoolgirl in the 80’s when girls were actively discouraged from playing it. But her passion prevailed over all opposition. Today, however she is glad to note that more than half her class in Montreal comprises girls. Monique teaches piano at the Université Laval in Québec. She too started very young, at the age of five.

NANDINI NAIR


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