National finals beckon for talented Perse saxophonist

Marcus Wentzell (Lower Sixth) has blown his way into the national finals of the Rotary Young Musician of the Year competition.

The gifted saxophonist will face the winners of the other regional qualifiers at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester later this month.

He is relishing the chance to play in the finals, having recently enjoyed the experience of performing in the Pro Corda chamber music national finals in London with Perse group Sticky G# Sax Quartet.

Marcus, who started playing saxophone aged seven, said: “Chetham’s is quite a prestigious venue, so I’m looking forward to playing there and it should be a very exciting day.

“I had a chat to Sakura Fish (OP 2023), who qualified for the final last year, and she said the standard goes up even higher than it has done already.

“I just think there will be a really friendly atmosphere, based on how the competition has gone so far.”

It has been a long journey to the national finals for Marcus, starting with success at the Saffron Walden Music Festival last November.

He then progressed from the district final in Norwich before winning the Central and Eastern regional final at the same venue.

Marcus said: “I ended up against a drummer and two clarinet players and the standard was really high, but luckily the judges like what I did.”

In each round, he has performed two contrasting pieces, Syrinx by Debussy and Woods’ Concerto, and will play them again at the national finals.

“I start off with Syrinx, which is an unaccompanied piece, so it’s quite exposed, but shows off the range of dynamics of the instrument,” said Marcus.

“The other piece is a modern jazz work with an improv section, which allows me to show a bit more personality through the music. It also features a very high note, called an altissimo, where you must change your mouth shape to get the higher harmonics needed to reach it.

“I just particularly enjoy playing both these pieces because they can really showcase the saxophone fully.”

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