Combining the diverse paths of two pairs of Saxophone players, Compass Quartet – Christina Leonard, Jeremy Rose, Matthew Ottignon, Luke Gilmour – form one of the most interesting and dynamic groups to emerge in Australia’s music scene. Inspired by the idea of breaking down barriers between classical music and improvised jazz, Compass takes an innovative and flexible approach to concert programming, combining influences as that are, distinct, new and unusual.
Committed to expanding the context and genre of the Saxophone Quartet, Compass have, and plan to continue to commission new works to be written for collaborations with some of Australia’s finest instrumentalists.
Compass can tailor a program featuring works from early jazz to contemporary art music, with many arrangements and original compositions by band members.
SMH review of their recently released album ‘Abrazo Tango’ by Tall Poppies label describes their approach……“The superb pieces have been composed within the band and, in the tradition of Astor Piazzolla’s “nuevo tango”, stretch the rhythms to (back-) breaking point. The horns, meanwhile, curl around one another in dramatic precision, or explode in joyous or sultry improvisation……..”
Christina Leonard – soprano saxophone
Born in Coonamble, NSW, and now residing in Sydney, Christina is a Saxophonist whom is committed to expanding the repertoire of Australian music, and is very involved in the arrangement, commissioning and concert promotion of music in new and exciting frameworks.
Christina has directed and performed in many solo and ensemble recitals and made many recordings and live broadcasts for both 2MBSfm and ABC Classic FM.
She is the Soprano Saxophonist with Continuum Sax, Australia’s leading Classical Saxophone Quartet as well as co-artistic director of the Saxophone Quartet ‘Compass’ who have released a CD of original Tango music to critical acclaim on the Tall Poppies label and will soon release their second album ‘Ode to and Autorickshaw’ with Tabla player Bobby Singh and Sitarist Sarangan Sriranganathan. Christina has arranged and recorded a CD of Baroque repertoire with Marshall McGuire (Harp) and Danny Yeadon (‘cello), the scores of which have been published by CLPublications, many of which are included on the current AMEB Syllabus. Christina has also arranged and recorded a CD of music by Piazzolla, Ginastera and Guastavino with jazz pianist Matt McMahon that has recently been released by Move Records. Christina is the Tenor Saxophonist on the soon to be released recording of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Christina has preformed and recorded with the Sonic Art Ensemble and the Alpha Ensemble. For many years she has been a permanent casual with both the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Opera Ballet Orchestra and performed last year in both the Melbourne and Sydney seasons of the new Australian premiere ‘Edge of Night’ by Gerard Brophy, and was Soprano Saxophonist on the 2008 SSO tour of Italy. Christina has also toured with the ACO and Barry Humphries. This year Christina will perform in the Australian Ballets season of Romeo and Juliet.
In 1995, Christina was awarded a Queens Trust Scholarship to complete a postgraduate degree in Advanced Instrumental Studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. On her return to Sydney Christina completed her Masters of Music (Performance) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. From 1997 Christina has taught Saxophone at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and in 2008 was awarded the permanent position of Lecturer in Saxophone.
Christina is the founder and artistic director of the chamber ensemble ‘The Collective’ (Sophie Cole, Daniel Yeadon, Bernadette Balkus) and received an Australia Council grant to commission two new works for the ensemble which were recorded by ABC Classic FM in 2008.
Christina is a core member and co-director of the Sydney Soloists and was artistic director of the 2009 Campbelltown Arts Centre ‘Composer in Residence’ series.
Engagements in 2010 included touring as a soloist with the Song Company and Synergy Percussion premiering ‘Gethsemane’ by Gerard Brophy; two concerts in the prestigious international new music forum ISCM; recording an album of contemporary Australian music with Continuum Saxophone Quartet, as well as recording the music of Mary Finsterer for the award winning Australian film ‘South Solitary’ and concert engagements with Musica Viva. Christina has also be involved in various engagements with other ensembles including the Sydney Soloists; has performed the solo Saxophone part in Milhaud’s ‘Creation of the World’ with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and has been invited to perform the part again this year. Christina was a Soloist with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra in their sold out ‘Noel Noel’ concert series in 2010 and has also been invited to perform again in this series in 2011. ABC Classics will be releasing a CD of the 2010 performance.
Jeremy Rose – alto saxophone
Sydney saxophonist and composer Jeremy Rose is one of Australia’s leading next generation jazz artists. He completed a Bachelor of Music (First Class Honours) at the Sydney Conservatorium in 2007 and has since studied saxophone and composition in London, Oslo, and New York with George Garzone, Tim Garland, Geir Lysne and Dave Douglas.
Rose’s music attempts to reconcile two very different art forms – composed and improvised music – and challenges himself to seek out different influences to forge with his deep respect for the jazz tradition. His six released albums as both leader and co-leader have spanned genres as wide as reggae, afrobeat and hiphop, to Indian Classical music and tango. This searching for identity and meaning has equated to new music that challenges and engage both performers and listeners alike.
He has toured and performed at major festivals around the country with his various projects including The Vampires, The Strides, Jeremy Rose Quartet, Compass Saxophone Quartet and Chiba Quartet, as well as appearing as a solo artist in Japan and Norway.
The media has reported that “his compositions stand out from the pack” (SMH) and that “his playing shows subtle glimpses of a mature master” (The Australian). Rose has also received numerous awards, and in 2009 he received the Bell Award for Young Australian Jazz Artist. In 2010 Jeremy received an Australian Post Graduate Award to complete a Masters in Music (Composition) under the supervision of Matthew Hindson.
Matthew Ottignon – tenor saxophone
As one of Australia’s finest Jazz Saxophonists, Matthew’s classic tenor sound has been described as being ‘as wide as a double-frontage terrace’. After completing a Bachelor of Music with first class honours from the Sydney Conservatorium, Matthew has appeared on the recordings of Katie Noonan, Jackie Orszazcky, and Blue King Brown and has appeared on stage with international legends Lou Reed and Brian Wilson. Ever since moving to Sydney from his hometown of Auckland NZ, Matthew has been in demand for his ability to add something special to bands, dj’s and recording artists from all over the world, in particular having spent some time with jazz master Mike Nock. His skills as a multi instrumentalist have cemented him a position in triple aria winning band Monsieur Camembert. His own jazz trio project ‘Informal Troupe’ released their debut album in 2007 to critical acclaim.
Luke Gilmour – baritone saxophone
Luke is currently completing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music under the tutelage of Maestro Imre Pallo. 2011 will see Luke work as Associate Conductor of the Sydney Conservatoirum of Music Wind Symphony and Guest Conductor of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Modern Music Ensemble. As a member of Symphony Australia’s Conductor Development Program, Luke has worked with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under the guidance of Eckehard Stier, Lutz Kohler, Baldur Bronniman and Christopher Seaman. He was also guest conductor for Sydney Camerata’s performance of Appalachian Spring. In 2009 he was awarded the prestigious Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music (LRSM – Music Direction). Eugene Corporon and Jack Stamp have also had an influence through the University of North Texas Graduate Conducting Collegium. Mark Walton and James Nightingale were Luke’s saxophone teachers at the undergraduate level.
After completing his Bachelor of Music on Saxophone from the Sydney Conservatorium in 2000 and working with the Royal Australian Navy Band until 2006, Luke has had a wealth of experience in music production and performance. During his time with the Navy Band, he performed numerous concertos, as well as arranged for this group. He was also involved in the RAN Jazz Orchestra and led the RAN Saxophone Quartet.
Luke has been awarded several prizes and scholarships including the Henderson Scholarship, Fellowship of Australian Composers Award, Winner of the City of Sydney Open Saxophone Prize, University of Sydney Equity and Merit Scholarship as well as attaining his Associate and Licentiate Diplomas in Saxophone Performance. He is also a Graduate of the NSW DET Talent Development Project.
As an educator, Luke has developed a reputation for building strong and vibrant instrumental programs. Recently he was appointed the Director of Bands at Newington College. Previously, he was the Ensembles Director at Rose Bay Secondary College and Clovelly Public School. He was also a Conductor for the NSW Department of Education Arts Unit and Newtown High School of the Performing Arts. Recently, Luke launched an innovative new music tutor website http://www.musictutor.com.au .
Luke is well liked with the community groups he has been engaged to lead. Aside from his continuing role as Music Director of the Sutherland Shire Choral Society, he has also worked with the Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra and is currently the Associate Conductor of the Northern Beaches Orchestra.