by Peter Leung
In 2017 I was asked by one of my good mates Peter Chao, to be part of the Sax Radio Music Festival and summer school, Kaohsuing, in the south of Taiwan. I’d never been to Taiwan before but was on board from the start. For our recital performance, I contacted a few close composer friends, particularly Adrian Kingwell and Brenna Noona, who set about creating awesome new solo tenor saxophone works for me. Alongside these works we brought on our good friend Chris Higgins to help us perform some new duos and trios (and generally eat too much amazing food and have too many side-splitting laughs)!
While I was warned before arriving, I was not ready in the slightest for the humidity in Taiwan. Thankfully my reeds survived the entire festival, even with some days of 6+ hours of rehearsing. Each day started with a morning of teaching, in which I directed different groups of eager young Taiwanese saxophonist. The difference in approaches to learning the saxophone and music in general was really eye-opening. These young players were performing and studying repertoire I had not even encountered till my university days and it was exciting to hear them take on board and apply new advice so readily.
One of the standout experiences for me at the festival was meeting and performing with the great Japanese saxophonist Nobuya Sugawa. As both Sugawa and myself are endorsed artists with Yamaha we were treated to lunch by the company on the final day of the festival. This will always be a fond memory for me for both sharing a meal and conversation with one of my saxophone idols but for also doing this at the restaurant (now a chain) which originally made pearl milk tea (almost a staple in Taiwan, which I may have become slightly addicted to). Being part of the 2018 Sax Radio Music Festival was an amazing experience – a big shout out to Ku Jung Chen for fantastic organisation and the other members of the faculty for making it such an awesome week!