Calvin Wong

Calvin Wong found his interest in playing saxophone at the age of ten. He followed Man-Sze Tsang and Martin Choy for nine years and actively participated in various music competitions. His professional ensemble appearances include performances with MODUS, Peninsula Quartet, Hong Kong Chamber Wind Philharmonia, Hong Kong Saxophone Ensemble, and Hong Kong Youth Saxophone Choir. He has performed in master classes and lessons for Eugene Rousseau, Claude Delangle, Arno Bornkamp, Nobuya Sugawa, Masato Kumoi, John Sampen, Thomas Liley, Chien-Kwan Lin, Julia Nolan, James Umble, Jan Berry Baker, Tom Walsh, Adam McCord, Bruce Weinberger, Oasis Quartet, Zagreb Quartet, and Akropolis Reed Quintet.

Calvin studied with Stephen Page at the University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music (AD), Otis Murphy at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (MM), and Kenneth Tse at the University of Iowa (BM). Recently, Calvin has performed in The First Asian Saxophone Congress in Taiwan, North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) Conferences, Midwest International Clinic in Chicago, Singapore Saxophone Symposium 2015, World Saxophone Congress XVI in Scotland, New York Wind Band Festival at Carnegie Hall with the Indiana University Wind Ensemble, and the College Band Directors Nation Association National Conference at Kansas City with The University of Texas Wind Ensemble. Calvin has also featured as a soloist on Four Pictures from New York by Roberto Molinelli with the Wah Yan Symphony Orchestra and Hong Kong Youth Saxophone Choir respectively, as well as Fantasia on Lyun Joon Kim’s Elegy by Richard Dudas with the Hong Kong Saxophone Ensemble.

A recipient of scholarships from the University of Iowa and Indiana University, Calvin competed in the Music Teacher National Association and the International Saxophone Symposium and Competition. He was awarded prizes in the 2013 and 2014 Yamaha Performing Young Artist Competition, and the NASA Region 3 Competition. Besides standard repertoire, Calvin is active in new music performances. He has given premiere performances of works by composers Don Freund, Adam Schoenberg, David Canfield, Aaron Perrine, Jennifer Jolley, Jeremy Podgursky, Stephen Rothermel, Casey Martin, Aaron Smith, Chris Neiner, among others. His enthusiasm of playing with a chamber ensemble has resulted in opportunities to play under the baton of Ray Cramer, Jerry Junkin, Stephen Pratt, David Dzubay, Victor Tam, Kevin Ngai, William LaRue Jones, and Mark Heidel among others. Calvin recorded with the University of Iowa Saxophone Ensemble in “Contemplation” under Jeanné Records, and was featured in David Canfield’s new album “Chamber Music, vol. 5.” In 2016, he has also commissioned and premiered La Réflexion by So Ho Chi, and Nymphéas by Larry Shuen Laiyin at The First Asian Saxophone Congress in Taiwan. Calvin has also participated in the New Music On The Point Festival in Vermont, where he worked with Christian Wolff, Jan Williams, Katharina Rosenberger, Tony Arnold, Timothy Munro, JACK Quartet, and Bent Frequency.

As an educator, Calvin has given master classes at Soochow University, California State University at Fullerton, MCGP Seacon Square (Mahidol University) in Bangkok, the Summer Saxophone Academy at Indiana University, and the Young Saxophonist’s Institute in Texas. He is currently giving private lessons at Georgetown, Pflugerville and Austin in Texas. His students have been successful at Texas All-State auditions and University Interscholastic League auditions.

As the Artistic Director of the Hong Kong Youth Saxophone Choir, Calvin currently resides in Hong Kong to promote music education and to develop his creative career. He has performed solo recitals at the Hong Kong City Hall, Suzhou Poly Grand Theatre, and Nanjing Cultural Center.


Calvin Wong, saxophone
Korak Lertpibulchai, piano


Christian Lauba: Partyta – Etude 19

Dan Welcher: As Light As Bird From Brier – Fantasy after Mendelssohn for soprano saxophone and piano (Asia premiere)

David Biedenbender: Images
II. Still

Roshanne Etezady: Streetlegal

Programme notes

Christian Lauba (b. 1952): Partyta – Etude 19 (2012)

Christian Lauba finished his Neuf Etudes in 1996 for unaccompanied saxophone. Each etude features certain extended techniques and they are known for its high demand and fluency of such techniques. Etude No. 19 is for solo soprano saxophone. It demands the mastery of trills of large intervals from the saxophonist, and also the perfect control over small-interval multiphonics. The purpose is to mimic the counterpoint from double stops technique from the string instruments.

Dan Welcher (b. 1948): As Light As Bird From Brier – Fantasy after Mendelssohn for soprano saxophone and piano (2016) – Asia premiere

As Light As Bird From Brier is loosely based on Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which has haunted me since I was nine years old.  My parents subscribed me to The Childrens’ Record Guild, and every month a new 78 rpm vinyl record would arrive in the mail. They were mostly fairy tales and “kids lit”, but in this case it was a very condensed performance of the actual play, with Mendelssohn’s music.  I loved it immediately, and still do—I saw a performance two years ago at the Stratford Festival that literally stalks my dreams.  So I’ve channeled Mendelssohn in this new piece for soprano saxophone and piano—specifically, the Overture, the Scherzo, the Intermezzo, the fairy’s song “You spotted snakes with double tongue”, and the Rustics’ Dance.  But it’s not a pastiche—most of the music is completely my own, though well-read listeners will detect snatches of Mendelssohn’s haunting score throughout.  

“This piece joins Mill Songs and Florestan’s Falcon among my works that honor my favorite nineteenth century composers (in those cases, Schubert and Schumann, respectively) without ripping them off.  As Stravinsky did in his ballet Pulcinella, I have borrowed fragments of melody from a much-loved composer, and made a fabric of harmonies and scales that are genetically related to Mendelssohn, but unmistakably Welcher.

“In this work, the saxophonist is Puck—skittish, dazzlingly fast and brilliant in the outer parts, and a mischievous Cupid in the long, central Love Song. (Remember how Puck anoints Titania’s eyes with the juice from a magic flower, which causes her to fall in love with Bottom the weaver, who has been bewitched and wears a donkey’s head?) The music traces Puck’s magic flight, the finding of the flower, Titania’s love-scene with Bottom and her fairies, and the rustic players—whose rehearsal of the funniest play-within-the-play in literature is interrupted by Puck’s dirty tricks.  

“I greatly enjoyed the process of writing this piece, and often found myself quite moved even as I was writing it…which rarely happens.  Stephen Page, who commissioned the work, is a consummate artist (and a bit of a Puck himself).  The title comes from Oberon’s final speech in the play:

“Through the house, give glimmering light,
By the dead and drowsy fire.
Every elf and fairy sprite
Hop as light as bird from brier,
And this ditty, after me,
Sing, and dance it trippingly.

David Biedenbender (b. 1984): Images – II. Still (2008)

“I wrote Images following a dream I had one night. After waking from this dream, I was left with a rather indistinct image of what had actually taken place, yet the impression that it left on me was so unmistakably vivid, I felt compelled to write this piece based on the elusive memory. The first image communicates the uncontrollable and dizzying sense of motion that occurs in the moments between sleep and lucidity; the second reflects upon a beautiful stillness that is distorted and then transformed back to tranquility; and the third is reminiscent of a wild, late night jam session.”

Roshanne Etezady (b. 1973): Streetlegal (2003)

“The word ‘streetlegal’ comes from the world of racing cars. To me, it suggests a vehicle of great speed and power tearing around city streets and highways. It brings to mind something fast, brilliant, shiny, and even a little bit dangerous.

“This piece has, at its core, a deep sense of hyperkinetic energy. Both instruments are required to perform calisthenic, athletic gestures, all the while maintaining a larger sense of musicality. The piece is virtuosic on an individual level as well as—if not especially—in terms of ensemble. Aggressive, angular lines predominate in the melodic language of Streetlegal, and in terms of structure, ‘hard edges’ are the norm. Each section of the piece seems almost to collide into the next, and when there are transitions between sections, they are short and abrupt. The overall effect, I hope, is one of barely containable energy, excitement, and realized momentum.”