August 13, 2020

Duo blends the flute and saxophone together

By Kareema Vernon

The Awea Duo, a musical group that comprising Jennifer Brimson Cooper and Masahito Sugihara, played in Mayo Concert Hall on Monday, Oct. 26, at 8:30 p.m. Cooper plays the flute, while Sugihara plays the saxophone — two instruments that are rarely found together, however, the duo blends the two instruments with ease.

Together they played five different pieces throughout the one-hour performance, each of which flowed into the next. Similar to a musical medley, the Awea Duo’s show featured famous composers such as Bach and Mozart, among others well-known musicians.

Cooper (left) and Sugihara (right) play their respective instruments. (Andrew Cislak / Staff Photographer)
Cooper (left) and Sugihara (right) play their respective instruments. (Andrew Cislak / Staff Photographer)

According to the two artists, both Cooper and Sugihara’s passion for music started at a young age, but the two formed the Awea Duo when they first met at Morehead State University five years ago.

“I realized that there wasn’t anything like it,” Cooper said.

Sugihara said he wanted to first learn how to play the flute, but after he had been told that the flute was a “girl’s instrument,” he decided he would rather learn the saxophone instead. He said the duo was created because he and Cooper share the same musical skill level, as well as similar motivation.

To widen their audience, Cooper and Sugihara have also gone on worldwide tours each year. Cooper said they try to mix up the program by adding various new pieces that appeal to all. The performance at the College was one of the first stops on the duo’s current tour, which has recently included two international shows in Ontario as well as one performance at the Mansfield University of Pennsylvania in Mansfield, Pa., on Friday, Oct. 21.

For the Awea Duo’s stop at the College, a variety of students, faculty and classical music fans were in attendance. Junior music education major Ryan Galik thought that he would enjoy taking a master class with Sugihara, which emphasized the technical skill that these two brought to the stage.

Alumnus Drew Wierzbowski (’80) also said that the show was terrific and a “ very unusual combination of instruments.”

The flute and the saxophone are rarely seen onstage together, unless the instruments are parts of a large-scale orchestra, but the Awea Duo brings the two together with beauty.

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