Whether it be the more than hundred year old battle for the urn which is the Ashes in cricket, Essendon vs Richmond in the AFL, or NSW vs QLD in rugby league, these conflicts have provided spectacles that have bought their respective sports some of their greatest moments and pushed individuals to legendary achievements. These duels have become cultural institutions that live large in the imagination of their code’s devotees.
The Ashes alone has provided cricket tragics with Donald Bradman’s famous final innings duck at the Oval (which prevented the Don from attaining a batting average of 100), Shane Warne’s 'ball of the century' to clean bowl Mike Gatting around his legs at Old Trafford in 1993, and the enduring Ashes image of England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff consoling a crestfallen Brett Lee at the conclusion of the closest match in Ashes history.
Music history is filled with moments of conflict, antagonism and even outright jealousy. One of music's more famed rivalries is that of classical composers Mozart and Salieri. The two figures were both vying for favouritism in the Viennese court and competing for the same jobs. In fact, Mozart's wife Constanze claimed that Salieri had been offered Da Ponte's libretto for Cosi Fan Tutte and rejected it as being not worth setting. Obviously when Mozart got his hands on it, he humiliated Salieri with the masterwork he created. The rivalry went so far that salacious gossip was created and shortly before Salieri’s death in 1825, a story that he had poisoned Mozart went around Vienna.
Musical antagonism has continued through music history, even manifesting itself in pop culture with the friendly rivalry between the Beach Boys and the Beatles spurring such classic albums as Pet Sounds and Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The musical competition lifted these two talented bands to higher planes.
Nexas Quartet performs a concert where an age-old rivalry is presented in musical form. In The Ashes, Nexas perform some of the best British works for saxophone quartet alongside compositions by some of Australia’s leading composers. The quartet has had the pleasure of working with these leading Australian figures, but will that give the works an edge of the British?
Four saxophonists, one incredible quartet. Since their formation in 2002, Sydney-based ensemble Nexas Quartet has premiered countless new Australian works and collaborated with the finest musicians while focusing on promoting the musical diversity of the saxophone. The virtuosic ensemble remains at the forefront of chamber music today.