Senior Spotlight: Collin Presser, Saxophone
By Alyssa Guevara, Staff Writer
On Sunday, March 26, the Sunderman Conservatory held a senior recital for saxophonist Collin Presser ’23.
Presser has been a member of symphony bands throughout his life, joining his school’s band in the fourth grade. He has played the saxophone for 13 years, and he said it “happens to be one of the best decisions I made in my life, and I wouldn’t choose any other instrument to have started on.”
Presser shared that he was born partially deaf, but his parents did not realize it early on because he would often react positively to music. After his hearing impairment was corrected, he was able to appreciate music more, and as he got older he was able to participate in creating music.
“Joining my fourth grade band was the catalyst that moved me from music appreciator to performer,” said Presser.
A lot of work went into making Presser’s senior recital performance the best that it could be.
“In a way, I’ve been working on this recital since before I joined the conservatory. The sonata by Paul Creston was a piece I learned in tenth grade for district band auditions, and I later used it as my audition piece to become a music major,” he shared.
Presser’s recital began with his performance of the introductory piece titled “Prelude, Cadence et Finale” composed by French Composer and Pianist Alfred Desenclos.
On his choices for the pieces he performed, Presser said, “The pieces that weren’t composed by me, I selected because I worked on them at some point during my time here at the conservatory.” He continued, “A lot of the pieces are French saxophone repertoire, partially because that makes up the bulk of music written for saxophone, but also because I really enjoy music written in the French style.”
Presser shared that “Prelude” was his favorite piece to perform that he did not compose. “It was definitely the hardest piece [in] my recital, but I’m really proud to have been able to perform it as well as I did,” said Presser.
Presser then performed his next piece, called “Languishing.” This piece was composed by Presser in the fall semester to express his mental state in the latter half of 2022. Presser wanted this piece to express the anxious and overwhelming feelings he was experiencing while thinking about his life post-graduation.
Third came “Trio of Saxophone Sonatas,” with three pieces composed by Pierre Max Dubois, Paul Creston, and Lawson Lunde.
Next, Presser performed another piece that he composed, titled “Night,” which was commissioned by Justin Mitch ’23. This piece focused on a storytelling perspective, traveling through two movements inside one story. The first movement displayed a woodsman staring at the night sky, which captivated him. The second movement emulated the woodsman’s imagination as he drifts off to sleep, and then enters the dreaming stage of the sleep cycle. The woodsman dreams about dancing among fireflies by himself.
Presser then performed a final piece that he composed, titled “Alignment – Order and Chaos.” This time, Presser was inspired by the tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons and its categories, or alignment system, for a player’s original character.
This was Presser’s favorite piece to play that he composed himself. He says, “…I really enjoyed working with my friends Orazio, David, and Brayton to make it performance ready.”
Last, Presser performed Eugene Bozza’s “Improvisation et Caprice.”
Reflecting on his senior recital performance, Presser shared, “It was really special to get a chance to perform my own works for a live audience and I was really excited about the opportunity to do that.” He went on to say, “I’m proud of my performance. It was a very surreal moment for me as at the time it didn’t feel like it was really happening, almost like I was daydreaming. In some ways, I think that helped me to calm my performance anxieties, and ultimately, I feel like I did really well.”
In the future, Presser hopes to become a software engineer, though he has been encouraged to attend graduate school for composition.
He said, “After having this recital, I’ve now had at least three other people say the same thing to me, so I think that’s kind of funny and am keeping that in mind.” Although he is set on pursuing computer science, Presser went on to say, “I am leaving the option to pursue composition professionally open just in case I change my mind. Regardless, I still plan to be a composer and saxophonist as a hobby.”