U of S saxophone player makes international splash

By in Culture

Graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with a major in music and a minor in chemistry is certainly exciting, but it’s not the biggest event in Megan Bauman’s calendar this spring. On May 1, 2016, Bauman will perform with her saxophone at New York City’s lauded Carnegie Hall as the sole Canadian winner of a 2015 American Protégé award.

Bauman found out about the award while conducting Google searches for international competitions she could enter, having exhausted her local options.

“In Canada, there are a limited number of competitions. One kind is the national music festival stream, which is the one the Saskatoon music festival is in, and I’ve already done that one,” Bauman said. “I thought the Megan-Bauman--Kyra-Mazerchance to play Carnegie Hall would be pretty cool, so I applied for [American Protégé] back in December.”

Bauman filmed herself playing an audition piece, sent off the footage and waited. Two weeks later, she received an email confirming she had won a spot in her category of Woodwinds and Brass. Bauman is currently busy with a different contest — the Canadian Music Competition auditions in Calgary — but with the Carnegie Hall date quickly approaching, the performance is never far from her mind.

“I think I will be nervous when I get to it, but I’ve been doing lots of performing lately. I just came back from playing at Royal Albert Hall in London, England, which is kind of a precursor to Carnegie Hall,” Bauman said.

While Bauman is now the kind of musician who can speak casually of international performances, this hasn’t always been the case. Before she entered high school in her home town of Medicine Hat, Alta., Bauman had never thought of playing the saxophone. She picked up the instrument in grade nine so that she could go on a band trip to Europe.

“After that, they needed a euphonium player, so I did that for a while, then picked up the saxophone again,” Bauman said. “I call myself a fairly ambitious person, so after Europe when I heard of honour band and saw how good everybody was there, I wanted to be just as good, so I started taking lessons.”

This casual beginning to a music career indicates a natural talent with the instrument. Bauman realized this could be the perfect path to post-secondary education, even though her ambition at the time was science-focused, with plans to attend medical school.

After high school, Bauman decided to apply for the U of S’ music program as a performance major in saxophone as she knew that once admitted, she could take a couple of science courses — hence her chemistry minor — because it would look great on a medical school application. However, a hitch in the plan kicked Bauman’s competitive spirit into gear, causing her to delve further into her saxophone education.

“I originally didn’t get in as a performance major, I got in as what’s called the individualization stream,” Bauman said. “That caused me to work really hard on getting into performance. As soon as I got in, I started doing well in all these competitions and it grew on me from there.”

Through the course of her degree, Bauman matured as a musician and realized saxophone was not just something she was good at, but a true passion in her life alongside her love of science. She recently accepted a spot in the master of music program at Georgia State University, and she’s excited to see where the saxophone will take her next.

“If I can find [a career] that I love [playing] saxophone, then I will be really happy with that,” Bauman said. “I have two passions, I’m just choosing this one in the meantime.”

For now though, May 1 at Carnegie Hall is Bauman’s focal point. While nerves about her solo performance may not have surfaced yet, Bauman shows that the ambitious, competitive streak that got her this far in her career certainly has.

“I want to be at the same level as [the other winners] to make sure my performance fits in,” Bauman said. “I’ll make sure my best musicianship is showcased there.”

Photo: Kyra Mazer