NEC Saxophone Ensemble: Ma, Yee-Paulson, Stravinsky, Bernstein, Holst

NEC: Jordan Hall | Directions

290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA
United States

The NEC Saxophone Ensemble, directed by Kenneth Radnofsky, performs arrangements of Huihuai Huang's Horse Racing, Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite, Bernstein's Overture to Candide, Holst's Jupiter (from The Planets) and Ben Yee-Paulson's Colorful Spirits.  Conductors include Ken Radnofsky, Rachel Brake '24 MM and alumnus Joseph Bozich.

This is an in-person event with a private stream available to the NEC community here

  1. Huihuai Huang (arr. Lingbo Ma) | Horse Racing 赛马 (2023)

    Zeyi Tian, soprano
    Xinyi Liao, alto
    Zhikang Chen, tenor
    Cheng Wang, baritone

    Program note

    Horse Racing赛马》was originally a piece for Erhu solo, composed by Chinese composer and Erhu player Haihuai Huang in 1959. The music depicts a lively and thrilling horse racing scene and remains a timeless Erhu classic and one of the most well-known tunes in China. Pentatonic scales and variations of Mongolian folk melodies are used throughout. Huang uses Erhu articulations and techniques to imitate the galloping horses and their skillful riders. In my arrangement for saxophone quartet, the original melody is preserved and re-harmonized. I referred to several existent arrangements for Erhu and orchestra and expanded the piece with an introduction, a modulation and a section that briefly diverges from the pentatonic-dominating area. The four instruments each represents a horse and toward the end, one horse (portrayed by the soprano sax) neighs to suggest that it wins out and leads the group to a triumphant ending.
    - Lingbo Ma

    Lingbo Ma is a Chinese-born, US-based composer and pianist whose work has been performed in the USA, China, and Europe. She strives for unique ways of reaching the ultimate simplicity and clarity while unfolding diverse narratives in her music. Her recent projects include one act opera MARThA (libretto by John de los Santos), premiered by Lowbrow Opera Collective in Seattle in 2022; The Pile, commissioned and premiered by National Sawdust in New York; and Elusive Wish, commissioned and premiered by Collage New Music in 2023. She has been commissioned by the Dutch National Opera twice in 2020 and 2022. In the past 2022-23 season, she was a Blueprint Fellow at National Sawdust and a Collage Fellow at Collage New Music. In addition to composing, Lingbo enjoys arranging music of all genres and performs frequently as a collaborative pianist. Lingbo obtained a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School and is now pursuing a doctorate degree at New England Conservatory.

  2. Ben Yee-Paulson | Colorful Spirits (2018)

    In a Lively State
    In Deep Thought
    In Exuberance

    Xinyi Liao, soprano
    Juchen Wang, alto
    Zhikang Chen, tenor

    Ethan Shen, baritone

    Program note

    Colorful Spirits is a three-movement work that is very much a love letter to the saxophone itself. The title eludes to the wild harmonies of the composition, as well as the excited nature of the piece. While Colorful Spirits carries a lyricism found in all of my pieces, especially in the second movement, the focus of the piece is on the quick-changing and often chromatic harmonies that make it so colorful. The piece is also partly inspired by some famous jazz composers and harmonies. While I would not consider myself a jazz composer, I did rediscover the music of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis during my master’s degree. 
    - Ben Yee-Paulson

    Ben Yee-Paulson is an award-winning American composer and a native of Boston, Massachusetts. His music has been performed across the United States, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, and Taiwan. He was a composer-in-residence at the Lake George Music Festival, Choral Arts Initiative, Zodiac Music Festival, and DePaul University. His music is premiered in venues like Carnegie Hall, Jordan Hall, and the world opening of Microsoft’s flagship store in New York City. Yee-Paulson’s music received honors from the Costello Competition, Tribeca New Music Festival, ASCAP, Future Blend Competition, and the Tampa Bay Symphony’s Competition. He has also collaborated with Grammy-Award winning company PARMA Recordings. Yee-Paulson’s music is played by ensembles like the American Modern Ensemble, Ensemble Del Niente, Choral Arts Initiative, NEC Contemporary Ensemble, IU Concert Orchestra, and the New York Youth Symphony. His music is performed by artists like Grammy-nominated cellist Thomas Mesa. Other performances occurred at the Celebrity Series of Boston, European American Musical Alliance, Atlantic Music Festival, Mostly Modern Festival, the International Horn Symposium, and the Charlotte New Music Festival. Yee-Paulson is a Doctor of Music candidate at Indiana University and has a Master of Music degree from NEC and a Bachelor of Music degree from New York University.

  3. Igor Stravinsky (arr. J. Tennessen) | Pulcinella Suite (1947 rev.)

    Scherzo – Allegretto – Andantino
    Minuetto: Finale

    Zeyi Tian, soprano
    Xinyi Liao, Daihua Song, Guanlong Shen, alto
    Zhikang Chen, Ethan Shen, tenor
    Cheng Wang, baritone

    Kenneth Radnofsky, conductor


  5. Leonard Bernstein (arr. José Oliver Riojas) | Overture to Candide

    Juchen Wang (concertmaster), soprano 1
    Xinyi Liao, soprano 2
    Erik Elmgren*, Elise Hill‡, Margaret Nalen,
    Guanlong Shen, Daihua Song, Zeyi Tian, Huyan Zhang‡, alto
    Zhikang Chen, Cheng Wang, Yingjie Hong,
    Vladyslav Dovhan, baritone

    Ethan Shen, bass

    Rachel Brake ’24 MM, conductor

    *NEC administration               
    ‡Longy School of Music

    Rachel Brake

    Rachel Brake is a second-year graduate instrumental conducting student at the New England Conservatory. She received a B.S. in music education from Roberts Wesleyan University in 2022 with a double concentration in piano and French horn. She was the 2021 concerto competition winner on horn with the Roberts Wesleyan Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor for the RWSO and the University’s Wind Ensemble under the direction of Paul Shewan. At NEC, Brake has worked with Charles Peltz and currently studies with Bill Drury. In addition to the saxophone ensemble, she has guest conducted NEC’s Symphonic Winds, percussion ensemble, and serves on the faculty of the Preparatory School as a substitute conductor of large ensembles. Additional information on her current and upcoming work can be found at

  6. Gustav Holst | Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity - from The Planets

    arr. Mi-Bérnol Saxophone Ensemble

    Juchen Wang (concertmaster), soprano 1
    Zeyi Tian, soprano 2

    Erik Elmgren*, Xinyi Liao, Margaret Nalen, Guanlong Shen, Daihua Song, alto
    Zhikang Chen, Yingjie Hong, tenor

    Vladyslav Dovhan, Cheng Wang, baritone

    Ethan Shen, bass

    Joseph Bozich, guest conductor

    *NEC administration               

    Joseph Bozich

    Conductor and composer Joseph Bozich seeks to build shared musical experiences connecting audiences to the vast inner universe of western classical music. In 2023, Bozich debuted with the Tonkünstler-Orchester conducting his own composition at Grafenegg Festival Ink Still Wet Workshop. He has been assistant conductor to the Hungarian State Opera, Pittsburgh Festival Opera, and Opera Neo (San Diego), and was a conducting fellow at Aspen Music Festival in 2023. He made his Boston Symphony Hall debut in 2022 when he stepped in last-minute to lead a full production of La traviata with professional soloists and the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra.