James Noyes is a native of Iowa City and a skilled “doubler” perform on saxophone.
At the age of ten, Noyes chose to play alto saxophone in the elementary school band. Early in his career, Noyes was drawn to performing on many woodwinds, and became known as a skilled “doubler” on saxophones, clarinets, and flute. In this capacity, he landed his first professional job as a member of Disney’s All-American College Orchestra. Since that time, Noyes has become a saxophone specialist, having appeared with the Long Island Philharmonic, Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra, Juilliard Symphony Orchestra, Manhattan Chamber Sinfonia and many more. Formerly on the faculty at the Penn State School of Music in State College, PA, Dr. Noyes currently resides in the Inwood section of New York City and serves on the faculties of William Paterson University, Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division (former Theory Department Chair), and as Artistic Director of the MOSA (Music at Our Saviour’s Atonement) Concert Series in Washington Heights.
Marc-Antonio Consoli wrote the second piece Noyes performs, one of the first pieces written for tenor saxophone and piano. Though written in 1965, the piece did not premiere until 2002, a common occurrence for classical composers’ work, when pianist Scott Holden and Noyes played the entire work.
“Well, most everybody identifies the tenor saxophone. Some of you may need an introduction to the curved soprano saxophone. If you were to straighten [it] out, it might look a little more familiar to you,” Noyes says, introducing his instrument. In the early 20th century, makers took a straight saxophone and began crafting a curved, alto-shaped soprano saxophone. In the Great Depression, makers stopped producing soprano saxophones, and the instrument did not return to manufacturing until the 60s. Music, therefore, simply wasn’t written for it. In the late 90s and early 2000s, Noyes approached composers to write for the neglected solo instrument. Eric Nathan, the composer of “Imaginings”, took on the challenge.
“Aria” by Eugene Bozza
Sonatina for tenor saxophone and piano by Marc-Antonio Consoli
“Imaginings” by Eric Nathan
Sonata, Op. 29 by Robert Muczynski
Sonata for soprano saxophone and piano by Steve Cohen