Sax on the brain
Posted on 18 April 2012 by citymag
Behind every musician and his instrument there is a story of how they met and how they fell in love. Olivier Sliepen was only eight when he was encouraged to join the Bettembourg marching band where his older brother played the horn. “I had to choose a wind instrument. They needed a clarinet but I chose the saxophone anyway. I liked its form and it was a more ‘naughty’ instrument.” From the very start, Olivier was devoted to the sax. “I was lucky to always have great teachers. I never had to be pushed to practice, I wanted to be ready for the next lesson.” At 12, he told his teacher he wanted to become a professional musician. “At some point, if you want to play better, that’s the only way to go.”
Some years and many solo prizes later, Sliepen met the three partners in crime at the Conservatory of Amsterdam with whom he now forms the Amstel Quartet. As always, they had great success presenting their 8th album Amstel Tracks Now! at the Philharmonie in February. This month, the quartet will be touring the US. What makes Olivier Sliepen and his saxophone colleagues singular is the type of music they play. “We don’t do jazz. We play music that has been composed, classical music, contemporary and crossover. Of course, if the music was written before the saxophone was invented, like with Bach, we have to do transcriptions.” The result is the saxophone at its best: hauntingly powerful with a near-human voice.