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Recital to honor man who made the saxophone 'legit'

Recital to honor man who made the saxophone 'legit' image
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"If you were a Teal student, you were like one of his kids. I started studying with him when I was 12 and, next my own father, no one was a bigger influence on me."
So said Donald Sinta, professor of saxophone at the University of Michigan School of Music, on his teacher and his predecessor at the school, Larry Teal. As part of the annual Midwest Conference on School Vocal and Instrumental Music currently taking place at U-M, five of Teal's students will appear in a recital in celebration of his memory. The concert will take place in the Assembly Hall of the Rackham Building, Saturday at 1 p.m.
The performers include James Dawson of Oakland University, James Forger of Michigan State University, Trent Kynaston of Western Michigan University, John Nichol of Central Michigan University, and, of course, Sinta. Each of them studied with Teal. They will be accompanied by pianists Deborah Moriarty of Michigan State, Stephen Zegree of Western Michigan, and Ann Arbor's own Rob Conway of Oakland University.
The program will include the vituosic "Sonate No. 1" by the contemporary French composer Pierre-Philippe Bauzin; "Diminishing Returns" by School of Music graduate Steven Galante; the '50s tour de force for sax, "Caprice en Forme de Valse" by Paul Bonneau; "Distances Within Me" by John Lennon (not that John Lennon; another School of Music graduate), and, finally, "Intermezzo" from "Goyescas" by Enrique Granados, transcribed by Teal.
Teal was not only a significant figure in the musical life of Michigan in this century but the single most important figure in having the sax become accepted as a "legitimate" instrument. Although he came to the University of Michigan in the early '20s to study dentistry, he soon became involved with Wilson's Wolverines - a jazz band with a more than local following. He toured Europe with them for several years and later returned to the States only to be recruited by Glen Gray's Casa Loma Orchestra of Toronto, one of the important society orchestras of the period.
He finally settled again in Detroit and soon carved out his own niche in the city's musical life. He was a member of radio station WJR's live studio orchestra in the days before records were played on the air, and he was a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Not only did he play sax, as one might expect, but he also performed on clarinet and was the DSO's first desk flutist, a rare enough feat then and almost unheard of now. Futhermore, he opened his own music studio and staffed it with players from the orchestra. It was one of the most reputable, demanding and prestigious of its kind in the country.
In 1951, William Revelli, the University of Michigan's famous director of bands, recognized Teal's achievements and invited him to join the faculty of the School of Music. Although he was the first full-time professor of saxophone in the United States, he soon won the hearts of his students and of his fellow faculty members. He also won the sax the right to compete with all other instruments as an equal, and his students are now on the faculties of colleges and conservatories across the country.
Five saxophone players and former students of Larry Teal will present a recital, Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Assembly Hall of the Rackham Building, 915 E. Washington St. Admission is free.