A pinch of South Africa, a spoonful of France, a touch of Italy, a zest of Japan, all simmering in Strasbourg since 2016: these are the ingredients that make up the Avena quartet. Given their diverse and far-flung origins, it seems natural that the idea of proposing music illustrating travel and an assortment of world cultures germinated between Adam, Nicolas, Fabio and Sumika.
Using their saxophones as their tools, they concoct exotic musical programs presented in choreographed performances which make for appetizing musical shows, such as « Around the world in 80 minutes » (2021) or « Trajectories » (2019). These spectacles have show-cased at festivals in France (Festival Radio France Occitanie Montpellier, Festival Berlioz, Cap Ferret Music Festival, Festival de Chaillol, Les Musicales du Rhin, Jeunes Talents…) and abroad (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Italy, Japan).
Since their founding in 2016, the quartet has experimented with various musical menus: themed concerts such as « Ripples from Debussy », premiering contemporary music, collaborating with guest musicians such as in the « Americas” program or performances on center stage at the Alexis Gruss circus in Paris. During these varied performances and simultaneous musical studies at the Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin in Strasbourg, where in 2020 they each obtained a masters degree in chamber music, they have built up an appetite for musical shows, combining chamber music, spoken dialogue, choreography and a strong narrative.
- June 2020 : Awarded the music prize by the Académie Rhénane in Strasbourg, France.
- September 2019 : Second prize at the international chamber music competition Gaetano Zinetti in Sanguinetto-Verona, Italy.
- November 2018 : Prix d’honneur in the chamber music category at the Leopold Bellan international music competition in Paris, France.
- November 2017 : First prize as well as the APEC special prize at the Boulogne Billancourt chamber music competition specializing in 20th & 21st century contemporary music in Paris, France.
- October 2017 : First prize in the chamber music category and the Kazuo Tomioka special prize at the international saxophone competition in Kurashiki, Japan.
- June 2017 : First prize at the national chamber music competition in Remiremont, France.
Tour du monde en 80 minutes
Born in the French Alps, Nicolas Allard started the saxophone at the Tallard music school before furthering his studies at the conservatories of Gap and Lyon respectively. In 2016 he was accepted to study at the Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin in Strasbourg where he obtained his bachelor’s degree saxophone performance. Having always particularly enjoyed chamber music, he co-founded the Avena saxophone quartet in 2016 with whom he went on to obtain his master’s degree in 2020 specializing in chamber music at the Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin and the University of Strasbourg.
An impassioned jazz musician himself, Nicolas Allard decided to further widen his musical universe, exploring the vast realm of improvised music. On top of graduating with a Bachelor’s degree specializing in jazz and improvisation at the Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin in 2019, he now performs regularly in a vast variety of musical ensembles. In parallel with his saxophone studies, Nicolas Allard maintained a strong interest in pedagogy, ultimately graduating in 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in saxophone pedagogie. He currently teaches saxophone in numerous music schools in towns such as Eckbolsheim, Oberhausbergen and Wintzenheim and has managed to create a direct correlation between his teaching and his artistic projects.
As a musician, Fabio Cesare has been described as creative, curious and multi-talented. Born in Benevento in 1995, Fabio Cesare started his musical studies in the same city at the Nicola Sala conservatory, under the guidance of maestro Paolo Regliari. After moving to France in 2016 he graduated from the saxophone department of the Strasbourg conservatory with a distinction awarded unanimously by the jury. In 2020 he obtained a master’s degree specializing in chamber music at the Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin in Strasbourg alongside the Avena saxophone quartet. He has participated in numerous masterclasses and has won over 12 national and international music competitions both as a soloist and as a chamber musician. He has performed in theatres and festivals in Italy, France, Luxemburg, Japan, Bulgaria, Croatia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and many more. Since 2015 he has regularly been invited to perform with the Benevento Philharmonic orchestra, and since 2017 holds the post of saxophonist in the famous San Carlo orchestra in Naples. He has performed under the baton of conductors such as; Zubin Mehta, Antonio Pappano, Daniel Oren, Juraj Valčuha, Timothy Brock, Francesco Ivan Ciampa, Valerio Galli and Elio Boncompagni amongst others.
Sumika Tsujimoto epitomises the modern day artist, invested in her YouTube channel « [Sumika.] Saxophone » which currently has 90 000 subscriptions and well over 10 million total views. Her CDs, recorded with piano, Oto-no-jisho and Oto-no-Ame, are born from her collaboration with young Japanese composers.
Born in Nara, Japan Sumika Tsujimoto started the saxophone at the age of 13. After studying at the Takamado music school she continued her studies at the Soai University Faculty of Music in Osaka, studying under Suwako Iwata and Masahiro Maeda. She has won numerous awards including the prestigious university’s President’s Prize, 3rd prizes in both the solo and ensemble divisions at the Osaka International Music Competition (2012, 2015) and winner in the saxophone division at the Japan Classical Music Competition. After studying in Japan, she moved to France to continue her studies with Philippe Geiss at the Strasbourg music Conservatory. She graduated from the saxophone department with a distinction awarded unanimously by the jury. She has recently finished her masters specializing in chamber music at the Haute école des arts du Rhin in Strasbourg, from where her flowering musical career continues to flourish.
A true musician of the world, Adam Campbell, born in Cape Town, South African, left his motherland for France in 2013 in search of new adventures and artistic experiences. Under the steady guidance of two renowned saxophonists from the French school of classical saxophone, Cécile Dubois and Philippe Geiss, Adam Campbell graduated from the Besançon Conservatory and then the Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin in Strasbourg with his performance diploma, his Bachelor’s degree specializing in saxophone performance and his master’s degree specializing in chamber music. His musical studies were complemented with a rich variety of artistic experiences around the globe including; performances as part of the Alexis Gruss circus in Paris, , teaching saxophone during a summer camp in Jacmel, Haïti, performing live on CNN or in Japanese concert halls, and interpreting Glazounov’s magnificent saxophone concerto with orchestra in Manilla. His concert Le Saxophone à la Française bringing to the fore the elegance and diversity that is found in French classical music, has encountered much success with performances in South Africa but equally in the Philippines following an invitation from the French ambassador. Always striving to link his artistic projects to his teaching experiences, Adam Campbell graduated with a bachelor’s degree in saxophone pedagogie and currently holds the position of saxophone professor at the Gambsheim music school. Given his love and appreciation for travel, and cultural differences it is no surprise that he is a founding member of the Avena saxophone quartet, a musical ensemble which finds it’s identity in it’s cultural diversity.