NAME USAGE: Please refer to the ensemble by its official trademarked name, PRISM Quartet, not PRISM Saxophone Quartet. If you wish to identify instrumentation, we suggest doing so parenthetically, i.e., PRISM Quartet (saxophones).
Intriguing programs of great beauty and breadth have distinguished the PRISM Quartet as one of America’s foremost chamber ensembles. PRISM seeks to place the saxophone in unexpected contexts, chart fresh musical territory, and to challenge, inspire, and move audiences. “A bold ensemble that set the standard for contemporary-classical saxophone quartets” (The New York Times), PRISM was founded by students of the renowned Donald Sinta at the University of Michigan in 1984. In its earliest years, PRISM was chosen by Musical America as “Outstanding Young Artists,” performed on Entertainment Tonight and National Public Radio’s “Performance Today,” was a prize winner in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and toured virtually every state in the U.S.
The Quartet was subsequently the recipient of two Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, and featured in performances in Carnegie Hall on the Making Music Series, in Alice Tully Hall with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and throughout Latin America, China, and Russia under the auspices of the United States Information Agency and USArtists International. PRISM has also been presented to critical acclaim as soloists with the Detroit Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra, and conducted residencies at the nation’s leading conservatories, including the Curtis Institute of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory.
Champions of new music, PRISM has commissioned more than 300 works, many by internationally celebrated composers, including Pulitzer Prize-winners Julia Wolfe, William Bolcom, Jennifer Higdon, Zhou Long, and Bernard Rands; MacArthur “Genius” Award recipients Bright Sheng, Tyshawn Sorey, George Lewis, and Miguel Zenón; Guggenheim Fellows Kati Agócs, Anna Weesner, Martin Bresnick, Chen Yi, Mandy Fang, and Steven Mackey; and jazz masters Greg Osby, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Steve Lehman, and Susie Ibarra. In 1997, PRISM initiated its own concert series, now in Philadelphia, New York City, and Ann Arbor, presenting the newest compositions created for the ensemble by composers from around the world.
PRISM’s discography is extensive, with over 30 releases on Albany, BCM&D, BMOP/Sound, ECM, innova, Koch International, Naxos, New Dynamic, New Focus, Orange Mountain Music, and its own label, XAS Records (distributed by Naxos). The Fifth Century, PRISM’s ECM recording with The Crossing under Donald Nally, was awarded a 2018 Grammy for Best Choral Performance. PRISM may also be heard on the soundtrack of the filmTwo Plus One, by Emmy nominee Eugene Martin, scored by Quartet member Matthew Levy, and has been featured in the theme music to the weekly PBS news magazine “NOW.”
PRISM’s concert series and recordings feature a who’s who of contemporary music makers, including BMOP, Ethel, Sō Percussion, Talujon, Partch, Music From China, Opera Colorado, Cantori New York, Nick Didkovsky, Marilyn Nonken, and top jazz artists, including Jason Moran, Uri Caine, Chris Potter, Ravi Coltrane, Tim Ries, Joe Lovano, Ben Monder, Bill Stewart, Gerald Cleaver, and John Riley. PRISM has also performed with the LA Phil, Opera Colorado, The Crossing (choir), the New York Consort of Viols, the Chilean rock band Inti-Illimani, as well as Miro Dance Theatre, Nai Ni Chen Dance Company, and the Pennsylvania Ballet.
In 2016, the PRISM Quartet was named by its alma mater, the University of Michigan, as the first recipient of the Christopher Kendall Award in recognition of its work in “collaboration, entrepreneurship, and community engagement.”
The PRISM Quartet performs exclusively on Selmer saxophones and mouthpieces.
Intriguing programs of great beauty and breadth have distinguished the PRISM Quartet as one of America’s foremost chamber ensembles. “A bold ensemble that set the standard for contemporary-classical saxophone quartets” (The New York Times), PRISM has been presented by Carnegie Hall, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and throughout Latin America, China, and Russia under the auspices of USIA and USArtists International. PRISM has also appeared as soloists with the Detroit Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra, and conducted residencies at the nation’s leading conservatories, including the Curtis Institute and the Oberlin Conservatory. Two-time recipients of the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, PRISM has commissioned over 300 works by eminent composers, including Pulitzer Prize-winners Julia Wolfe, William Bolcom, Jennifer Higdon, Zhou Long, and Bernard Rands; MacArthur “Genius” Award recipients Tyshawn Sorey, Bright Sheng, and Miguel Zenón; and US Artists Fellow Susie Ibarra. PRISM’s discography is extensive, with releases on Albany, BCM&D, BMOP/Sound, ECM, innova, Koch International, Naxos, New Dynamic, New Focus, Orange Mountain Music, and its own label, XAS Records. The Fifth Century, PRISM’s ECM recording with The Crossing, was awarded a 2018 Grammy for Best Choral Performance. In 2016, PRISM was named by its alma mater, the University of Michigan, as the first recipient of the Christopher Kendall Award in recognition of its work in “collaboration, entrepreneurship, and community engagement.” The PRISM Quartet performs exclusively on Selmer saxophones.
Described as “a titan of contemporary music and the instrument, in general” (The Cleveland Plain Dealer), Timothy McAllister is Associate Professor of Saxophone at the University of Michigan, following professorships at Northwestern University, Arizona State University and SUNY-Potsdam. With premieres of over 200 solo and chamber works, he has been presented by major symphonies, concert series, and music festivals worldwide. Recently featured with the Berlin Philharmonic, he has appeared with over forty of the world’s top orchestras and wind ensembles in fifteen countries. In 2013 he presented the world premiere of John Adams’ Saxophone Concerto with the composer conducting in the Sydney Opera House, and is only the second saxophonist to appear as soloist in the 120-year history of the BBC Symphony Proms concerts in Royal Albert Hall. His recordings appear on the Nonesuch, Deutsche Grammophon, Stradivarius, Soundset, Centaur, Albany, Naxos, Equilibrium, New Focus, AUR, Summit, New Dynamic, Parma and Innova labels. He holds the distinguished Albert A. Stanley Medal, and multiple degrees from the University of Michigan. McAllister won a 2015 GRAMMY® Award (Best Orchestral Performance) with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as soloist on the album “John Adams: City Noir/Saxophone Concerto.”
Taimur Sullivan enjoys a prolific career as a soloist, chamber musician, and educator. His performances have taken him from the stages of Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center to engagements in Russia, Germany, and throughout Latin America. The New York Times praised him as “outstanding…his melodies phrased as if this were an old and cherished classic, his virtuosity supreme.” The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote that Taimur is “talented, fearless and sensitive…the sounds he made were fully and deliciously drawn.” He appears on over twenty-five recordings for the New World, Mode, Albany, innova, Capstone, Mastersound, Bonk and Zuma labels, and has most recently recorded James Aikman’s Concerto for Alto Saxophone with Russia’s St. Petersburg Symphony. In honor of his distinguished record of promoting and presenting new works for the saxophone, including over 150 premieres, Meet The Composer named him one of eight “Soloist Champions” in the U.S. Mr. Sullivan is Associate Professor of Saxophone at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music.
Matthew Levy has been hailed by The Saxophone Journal as “a complete virtuoso of the tenor saxophone” and by The New York Times for his “energetic and enlivening” performances. He is the recipient of a 2016 Pew Fellowship in the Arts, as well as composition fellowships from the Independence Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He has scored four motion pictures, including PBS’s Diary of a City Priest, featured at the Sundance Film Festival. His music is highlighted on four PRISM recordings, including People’s Emergency Center (Best Jazz of 2014, PopMatters). He has also recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, Tzadik, and Grammavision; collaborated with a host of choreographers/dance companies, among them Peter Sparling and Scrap; and appeared as a guest artist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Dolce Suono, NNM Ensemble, and counter)induction. He teaches saxophone at Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania; serves as a Community Artist Program mentor at the Curtis Institute, and as a consultant for the Corzo Center at the University of the Arts. Levy holds three degrees from the University of Michigan, where he was a recipient of the Lawrence Teal Award.
Zach Shemon is Assistant Professor of Saxophone at the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. Additionally, he serves on the music faculties at the Interlochen Arts Camp and Interlochen Saxophone Summer Institute. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BM, BSE, MM) and Indiana University (Performer Diploma). He also studied at the Université Européenne de Saxophone in Gap, France and the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he held the saxophone fellowship. His primary teachers are Donald Sinta and Otis Murphy. As a soloist, Shemon was awarded 1st prize at the inaugural International Saxophone Symposium and Competition in Columbus, GA and was the winner of the Indiana University Concerto Competition. He has appeared as a concerto soloist with the Indiana University Philharmonic and Michigan Philharmonic orchestras, as well as with the University of Michigan Concert and Symphony Bands. Shemon is a D’Addario performing artist, performing on Reserve Classic reeds and aiding in product research and design.