Where in the World is...

Thought I'd bring up a pet peeve of mine. Nothing like a little international intrigue to start things off on this site. [insert a little smile here]

Where is the World Saxophone Congress. Well, actually, it's more about who is in the World Saxophone Congress International Comity? Or should that be what is the WSCIC?

For those of you who do not know about this organization [shame on you], It's an international conference which is held every three years. The last conference was held in Slovenia last year and the next his scheduled to be held in Bangkok. (Here is a link to the Slovenia site)

Having been personally involved in organizing one of these events, here in Montreal in 2000 (you can visit our site which is still up at XII World Saxophone Congress) I can attest to the interest and importance these events hold for all saxophonists, especially those who perform in the "classical" style.  Also to the hard work and dedication which is needed to pull these things off.

[Let me take a moment to salute all those courageous souls who are crazy enough, about the
saxophone, to dedicate themselves in these endeavors.]

Here's a little history about the Congress. The first one was organized by Paul Brodie and Eugene Rousseau and was held in Chicago in 1969 with a few dozen participants from several countries (Donald Sinta was elected chairman at the time). It was followed the next year with another meeting, also held in Chicago. It has been held ever since at varying intervals to finally end up today being a very large assembly of over a thousand participants from all over the world.

So far, so good. But there is a caveat. Based on a traveling schedule, a little like the Olympics, the Congress travels from city to city at each event, having visited such cities as Toronto (Canada) (1972), Bordeaux (France), London (England), Washington D.C. (USA) (1985), Montreal (Canada) (2000), Minneapolis (USA) (2003).

Well those are the ones I can recall. Which is part of the problem which I have with the way this organization is handled. There is no central reference center to call on, either on the web, or by any other means I know of. No main office to contact, no one person to handle any inquiries.

Every three years, a general assembly is held where the participants of the Congress (be they performers or not) vote for a new International Comity (which is supposed to supervise everything about the next Congress) as well as for the location of the next Congress. I would also suppose that part of the comity's mandate would be to generate interest for the Congress and for the saxophone in general.

That's the theory of it. But in fact, being elected to the Comity seems to end up being an honorary thing. When we were organizing the Montreal congress, there was never (or hardly ever) any contact with the comity. More amazing to me is the president of our Association at the time was a member of the  Comity from 2000 to 2003, and when I asked him around the beginning of 2003 about the next Congress which was to be held in Minneapolis he answered that he did not have any information other the what I knew about the event.

So a first thought is, what exactly are they elected to do?

The next point which needs to be addressed is the fact that if one is not present at the Congress, it is hard to find out exactly who is a member of the newly elected comity, and how does one reach them? (by the way, I couldn't make it to the last Congress. Can anyone out there tell me who are the members of the present comity? I would like to know)

These comments are not meant to denigrate anyone on this or any previous comity. There have been some awesome personalities, such as Jean-Marie Londeix, Claude Delangle, Eugene Rousseau, John Sampen, Donald Sinta, to name a few, who have been on these comities. Which makes the situation so much more intriguing that nobody has thought of creating a central repository for this institution. In other words, a main office.

Like, are there any records of all the activities held in the last 40 years. If so, where can one go to consult these. If not, why not?

It's not just a question of my being able to know who we are dealing with, but it's also a question of the legacy this institution should be leaving.  There is a rich heritage which I am afraid might get lost. So many great performers have played so many great new works by so many great composers (well, all right they aren't always all that great, but still). But has anyone really collected all the information which has come from these many decades of events and gatherings.

Think about it. Next year will be the 40th anniversary of the first meeting. I wasn't there. Many of the younger generation of saxophonists weren't even born. So what has the Congress left them?

Memories are fading and giants are passing. Already gone from those original events are Marcel Mule, Sigurd Rascher, Daniel DeffayetLarry Teal (that's senior for those who know of his son, Larry junior), Cecil Leeson, Jean Ledieu, and so many others.

Shouldn't that also be part of the mandate of the International Comity?

You'll find in the side bar links to other instrument associations which have already figured out how to do this. (Geez, even the pan flute players have got it right... didn't want to get into another viola joke ... oops)

In this day and age, with access to the internet so readily available, it should not be so difficult for such a prestigious organization to get its act together and figure out how to better support future endeavors as well as preserve the rich history of our instrument in general and these events in particular.

(Sorry that the links don't lead to much for now, since I have just gotten started on this site, but they will eventually lead to, hopefully, interesting and useful items about all these amazing saxophonist)