Group 2, a saxophone quartet from Michigan State University performed for students at Goodrich Chapel on Feb. 23. The quartet was founded in August of 2019 when Michigan State University (MSU) saxophone professor, Dr. Joseph Lulloff, grouped his students into quartets. Dr. Lulloff is known for his musical skill and was a 2016 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Tyler Young and Evan Harris had worked together before and together they brought in Eric Zheng and Adam Epler.
The quartet soon found that the group Dr. Lulloff put together worked perfectly with each other.
“Adam and Tyler are more extroverted, and I really admire that. Me and Evan are a little bit more on the introverted side, but it’s almost like we complete the spectrum of personalities and somehow, together, we all gel and complement each other in the best ways,” said Zheng.
The group’s proudest accomplishment to date was two nights ago at Urban Beat, where the quartet sold out.
“We mostly play for music students or academic purposes,” said Epler. “It was really nice to see people who come to see us. We programmed it ourselves and talked to the audience the entire time. It taught us a lot about how to publicize events.”
The quartet will be competing in the 2020 National American Saxophone Alliance Quartet Competition Semi-Finals and the Music Teacher National Association Competition Finals in March.
“We are the perfect mix of art and entertainment at the highest level. Where you can come and hear
something that you absolutely will not forget,” said Young.
Evan Harris, 27, plays the soprano saxophone in Group 2 and is currently in his second year of his post-doctorate. He is the only member of the Quartet from Michigan and is a Lansing native.
Harris said that both of his parents play guitar, one of his brothers plays percussion and his other brother plays the tenor saxophone. Harris also said that his high school music teacher really “saw something in him” and that is what motivated him to pursue a career in music.
Tyler Young, 26, is originally from Aberdeen, North Carolina and studied saxophone performance at Florida State University and classical saxophone at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro but is currently in the first year of his doctorate.
When he isn’t performing with Group 2 or teaching saxophone at Alma College or Flint Institute of Music, Young can be found with his Floridian pianist, William, in Third Street Duo.
“The next time William is available to play, we are going to be doing a quintet,” said Young.
While Group 2 is a show, Third Street Duo is a type of creative improv.
“It’s going to be metal, so metal,” said Young.
Eric Zheng, 22, came from Tuscan, Arizona and began his college career at Northwestern University. In his senior year, he won the 2019 Yamaha Young Performing Artist Competition. He then went on to Michigan State University to study saxophone performance.
“[Eric] has the best alto sax sound I’ve ever heard,” said Young.
Zheng brings a unique perspective to Group 2.
“I grew up Asian-American. My parents are Chinese, and that’s been a really salient part of my life. So, in terms of, like, bringing the community together and bringing an outside perspective into the world of classical music,” Zheng said. “It’s another voice that can be heard within the world of music which can often be narrow-minded in the way that things are programmed.”
Adam Epler, 21, is from Texas and is the tenor saxophonist in Group 2 and is just finishing up his undergrad at MSU. He is also a private instructor at Northwest Community Schools.
Epler always knew that he wanted to teach and that he loved music even in elementary school.
“I always loved music, one of my first memories is of my dad blaring Stevie Ray Vaughn, and it just got into me,” said Epler. “But then I picked up the saxophone and I realized ‘Huh, I’m kinda good at this,’ and I thought you get to teach all the time in music by just performing.”