Passing the Carnegie test


After playing at Carnegie Hall—the 3671-seat classical music venue in midtown Manhattan—Kent Sangster’s Obsessions Octet received an offer to play a European tour. But before that, the group first had to pass the Carnegie test.

“We were told that the New York audience in that particular series have the tendency to leave if they don’t like it,” says Sangster, director and saxophonist for the Edmonton group. “We found this out afterwards. But they stayed and we actually got a standing ovation.

“Two days after the Carnegie Hall experience,” Sangster continues, “we got a call from the artistic director from [MidAmerica Productions]—who happens to be the director of the Festival of the Aegean on Syros, Greece—and we received this invitation to play the festival.”

The classical-jazz octet is now preparing for its first European tour this July, with stops scheduled in Greece, Poland and Czech Republic. The tour has been a long time coming, taking 18 months of planning to turn it into a reality due to the scheduling conflicts that come along with eight band members each with their own career: Sangster and two other members teach at Grant MacEwan University full-time, while five members play regularly with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s hard. It’s very hard,” says Sangster about working in an octet. “The reality of taking eight people on the road is a challenge. There’s a reason why a lot of touring bands are trios. But, you just have to plan and realize that if you want to make it work, you have to put an incredible amount of effort into it.”

Jasmine Salazar

Sat, Jun 14 (7:30 pm)
Edmonton Petroleum Club
$15 – $20 (advance), $25 (door)

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