The first CD dedicated
to the Soprillo
Getting high on the world's smallest saxophone!
Such is the character and uniqueness of the soprillo, it is never out of the news for long. Read the latest headlines below.
14th July 2012 - Hong Kong saxophonist Kevin Ling will première Mau-Mou, a new work for sopranino saxophone and piano at the World Saxophone Congress 2012 in St Andrews, Scotland.
Nigel with The National Saxophone Choir
of Great Britain - Friends of Bournville Carillon's Autumn Concert at St Francis Church, Bournville, Birmingham, UK. Saturday 29th October 2011
"An excellent production. Recommended".
The NSC's musical director and soprilloist, Nigel Wood is featured playing 'Duende'. The soprillo is also included as an ensemble instrument on most of the tracks.
Introduced by that most engaging item of musical theatre the Magic Flute Overture, this fast-moving show from the NSC sax family conjures up all the atmosphere of big top thrills in the title track, plus high-energy dance and Boogie, colour from Spain and America and all kinds of spectacle, both awesome (Bolero) and camp (Bohemian Rhapsody). There is delicacy and pathos too amidst the razzle-dazzle - a 12-track roller coaster ride of the familiar and unexpected.
The first NSC residential course will take place this summer in the Bournville area of Birmingham. Organised with the generous support of Bournville Village Trust and the Weoley Hill Village Council, and sponsored by Saxtet Publications, the course is aimed at saxophonists seeking ensemble playing experience.
Open to saxophonists of all ages and standards, participants will be able to rehearse and perform with the NSC, enhance their performance skills, learn new repertoire, and have the chance to try out the more extreme saxes in the NSC, such as the soprillo or contrabass.
Tutors: Nigel Wood, Richard Ingham, Andy Scott, Gerard McChrystal, NSC members.
Thursday 12th August 2010 to Sunday 15th August 2010. Weoley Hill, Selly Oak, Birmingham.
Places are going fast - go to www.saxchoir.com for more details and how to apply.
There will be two concerts featuring the NSC and course participants as well as a soprillo solo played by Nigel and choir.External link: http://www.saxchoir.com
Petra from the 7 Wonders - World Saxophone Congress - Bangkok 2009External link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srRZzesQuVg
Sunday 21st June saw the Soprillo in titled company when the National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain appeared at the opening weekend of Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine's 2009 Music in the Garden season at Wavendon. Joining the Choir in the performance pavilion at this idyllic location was NSC patron and distinguished guest, Lord Robert Winston. After a star performance as a gripping narrator in an all-sax arrangement of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, Lord Robert dusted down his sax to blow along with the troops in Karen Street's Carnival , surrendering the spotlight to some hot soloing from Alan Barnes and John himself. Irrepressible even in company of this calibre, the Soprillo sparkled as the bird in the Prokofiev and sang out its evocative story in a sax octet arrangement of Craig Rickard's lovely Duende.
For information on the remainder of the season's Music in the Garden season: see link below.
Duende is the opening track on Soprillogy, available from Saxtet Publications.External link: http://www.stables.org/Whats_on/Music_In_The_Garden
This is the world's first ever soprillo CD, released just 10 years after the first soprillo was created by its inventor, Benedikt Eppelsheim. All the material has been composed or arranged specifically for this recording, and includes some of Nigel Wood's own compositions as well as contributions from names such as Andy Scott, Karen Street and Ulrich Schultheiss. The pieces are scored for soprillo with piano, or occasionally accordion or harp, and feature a range of accessible contemporary styles.
Half the length of a soprano saxophone and sounding an octave higher, the soprillo is a piccolo equivalent, but what struck me on first listening was not the high pitch but the quality of performance and unexpected warmth of tone - in fact you almost don't notice the pitch. The playing is technically brilliant, with a lovely rounded tone, impeccable tuning, (no mean feat on something that looks as though it may have come out of a Christmas cracker!), and some nifty fingerwork.
The CD is full of expressive melodies and expressive playing. There are pastoral melodies and spirited melodies, catchy tunes and epic tunes, and many of the pieces are linked by a dance theme, jazz flavour or filmic quality. Nigel's Schwarzer Tanzer features flowing melodic lines, measured vibrato and effortless production of the top notes. Where Spirits and Demons Dance displays perfectly judged leaps between registers and electric trills. Fingers fly in the jazzy mock-Baroque fugal pieces while Andy Scott's Fujiko conjures up a Japanese landscape, calm and exquisite, simple yet intricate.
I Dance for You and A Matter of Life and Death reveal the tango's poignancy and passion, matched by the sad introspection of the Farewell Waltz, with its contrasting slow and fast moving passages and great control on the long notes. Walzing Soprillda, a light-hearted romp through various styles on the theme of Walzing Matilda, is a virtuoso tour de force pulled off with panache and style. Song for Vinny is a beautiful ballad, sensitively played, finishing the recording literally on a high note.
This landmark CD provides an excellent introduction to the instrument, and an insight into the different facets of the soprillo personality, from thoughtful to exuberant. With this recording, Nigel Wood has reached dizzy heights, establishing the soprillo as a bona fide musical instrument alongside the more familiar members of the saxophone family, and proving that small really is beautiful.
Clarinet & Saxophone Magazine, Spring 2009, Vol 34, No. 1
The Soprillo may be unique, but it's also part of a family - the sax family. 7 Wonders, a spectacular new work shortly to be premiered by the National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain, sees these family relationships re-confirmed and re-visited in a global context. Inspired by the seven new wonders of the world (www.new7wonders.com), its seven movements are written by seven different composers and each features a different member of the saxophone family. The Soprillo's wonder is Petra, composed by Nigel himself, and features the instrument in its most exotic and exuberant mood.
Further details of the other wonders and their composers at www.saxchoir.com.
Premiere Detail: Friday 20th March, CBSO Centre, 7.30 p.m.
Tickets £10, £8 (concessions)£5 (children under 16) from 0121 780 3333 or www.cbso.co.uk
CBSO Centre, Berkley Street, Birmingham B1 2LF
The first CD dedicated to the Soprillo. 'Soprillogy' is over an hour long and includes new music for soprillo with piano, accordion and harp. To purchase a copy or find out more visit: Saxtet Publications.com
"This would be a landmark recording for any new instrument. An astonishing display of technical bravura, displaying outstanding musicianship and a fearless head for heights. This soprillo saxophone recital album is unlikely ever to be surpassed in its quality".
Richard Ingham - Editor of the Cambridge Companion to the Saxophone, 22.8.08
Eclogue by Philip Buttall at the Prague Fringe, May 2008, with the National Sax Choir.
The NSC's tour to China was a great sucess and lots of fun. I played 'Eclogue' on my soprillo with the band accompanying me. Getting all the sax players on such a smalll stage was challenging. Check out the review at Shanghai Jazz Scene.
The NSC recently appeared in the March/April 2007 edition of the Saxophone Journal, a specialist bi-monthly American magazine. You can now read the magazine article or visit the website of the world's no.1 saxophone magazine, Dorn Publications.
NSC's latest recording 'Sax to the Max! featuring Philip Buttall's soprillo piece 'Waltzing Soprillda'. I'm playing the soprillo in many of the other sax choir pieces too.
You can buy a copy from Saxtet Publications.
I've added this alternative fingering chart which is intended ONLY AS A GUIDE for soprilloists just getting started.
These are only suggestion that work for me and the exact fingering used will always depend on the musical context.
I would recommend that you experiment and discover your own fingering combinations that work best for you on your instrument.
Soprillo solo at St. Johns, Smith Square.
18 September 2006
Nigel is taking his soprillo to London this autumn when he takes solo role in Philip Buttall's Eclogue at the prestigious venue of St. John's, Smith Square. It's a beautifully sentimental pastiche of a Victorian ballad with a florid improvisation, ideally suited for the agility of the soprillo set against the mellow backing of the National Saxophone Choir and can be heard on the choir's Sax in the City CD.
Concert details: Alive and Kicking, St. John's, Smith Square, London, Saturday 21st October, 7.30 pm. Tickets £16, £12, £10 (concessions£8) from St. John's Box Office and online.
Visist Planet Soprillo where you can find out about other Soprilloists around the world.
You can upload you own profile if you have your own Soprillo.
This witty and imaginative take on Australia's signature waltz was originally written for Nigel Wood and his soprillo. (It is one of the first pieces to be published for soprillo saxophone).
In it, the agile little piccolo sax (soprillo) revisits 'Matilda' in the styles of Ravel, Schubert, Beethoven, Sousa, swing and more, and she is (of course!) serenaded with didgeridoo fanfares.
The primary part is for Bb sax but an Eb part in also included so you altoists don't get left 'Downunder' .
The National Saxophone Choir will be appearing at the WSC in Slovenia on 8th July 2006. I'll be getting the chance to play 'Waltzing Soprillda' with the NSC.
They will also be including a new work 'Introduction & Riffs' by Roger May. His score won the NSC compostion competition (see the National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain for more details).
This piece includes a fugal section written for soprillo, sopranino, tenor and tubax!
Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2005.
Myself with The National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain.
View the Windows Media Video video clips.
The National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain put on 10 concerts in 5 days at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from 9th-13th August 2005. 'Sax In The City' was voted number 1 in the audience text voting system on the 14th August. Two fantastic final day performances with record attendances left the National Sax Choir's appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe on the ultimate high note!
They launched their debut CD 'Sax in the City' which includes a solo soprillo feature as well as pieces with the soprillo playing as part of choir.
You can now purchase a copy of the CD from the NSC or Saxtet Publications website.
Read about the NSC and the soprillo in the Birmingham Press: http://icbirmingham.icnetwork.co.uk/birminghampost/reviews/tm_objectid=15833787&method=full&siteid=50002-name_page.html.
The new Soprillo.com website has been launched and features information, photos, sound clips and news about the soprillo. Take a look around to learn more!