About (14-15)

Information about the Asylum Quartet.

"roaring towards success...they expertly deliver an experience like no other." 

- Fawzi Haimor, Resident Conductor, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Asylum 201.jpg

Lauded for “nonstop virtuoso skills” (Times Herald-Record, New York) and "evocative, educational, and refreshing" concerts (Newport Daily News, Rhode Island), the Asylum Quartet plays everything from lush classical works, minimalism, and modernism to indie rock, world music, and klezmer. The four classically-trained saxophonists met as graduate students at the The Hartt School in West Hartford, Connecticut in 2011. Shortly after forming, the quartet received the Grand Prize in the 2014 International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition in Boston, Massachusetts, becoming the first saxophone quartet to receive this honor. 

The quartet takes its name from Asylum Hill, a storied neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut. In the mid-nineteenth century, this area was an important commercial, political, and cultural capital where literary figures such as Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe made their home. Today, the quartet draws inspiration from this spirit of Asylum Hill through a commitment to engaging and captivating diverse audiences and contributing to the vibrancy of its home city. In September of 2014, Hartford's Christ Church Cathedral named the Asylum Quartet its Ensemble-in-Residence, bringing free concerts to the Hartford community throughout the 2014-2015 season. Additionally, the quartet is part of the Metropolitan Transit Authority's Music Under New York program, performs outreach concerts in Hartford Public Schools as Arts Providers for Hartford Performs, and serves as the 2014-2015 Resident Ensemble for Musical Masterworks, presenting outreach concerts, clinics, and masterclasses in public schools throughout southeastern Connecticut.

Recent highlights include a concert at the Boston Athenaeum, performances before film screenings at the 2014 Traverse City Film Festival, a two-concert debut at the Newport Music Festival, a two-week residency at Avaloch Farm Music Institute (Boscawen, New Hampshire), and a mainstage concert at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas (New Haven, Connecticut). Other past appearances include Reeves-Reed Arboretum (Summit, New Jersey), The Hooker-Dunham Theater and Gallery (Brattleboro, Vermont), the Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts and Cultural Center (Middletown, Connecticut), and at Bravo Waterbury!, in an outreach concert for the El Sistema-inspired music education program. The quartet has made regular appearances at Connecticut’s J. Rene Coffee Roasters Music Series and Manchester Community College "Live on Main" Series. The Asylum Quartet has been a featured guest on WNPR's Where We Live with John Dankosky, WWUH's The 20th Century Limited with Larry Bilansky, WNMC's Morning Jazz with Eric Hines, and WCRI's Festival Series with Mike Maino.

As enthusiastic performers of new music, the quartet has collaborated closely with composers including Lev "Ljova" Zhurbin, Erberk Eryilmaz, Polina Nazaykinskaya, Alan Thomas, and Ryan Jesperson. Asylum's 2014-2015 season features an original arrangement of Philip Glass's String Quartet No. 5. Additionally, the quartet launched its first Call for Scores Competition in 2014 as part of its efforts to curate new works from fresh, compelling voices.

New England nonprofits interested in booking the Asylum Quartet may be eligible for support through the New England States Touring (NEST) program of the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA). More information on NEST grants is available here

The Asylum Quartet endorses Elite Woodwind Services. Joseph Abad and Max Schwimmer perform on Forestone Reeds.

"There is so much energy and optimism in everything these gentlemen do...and their skill is maddening."

- Ljova (Lev Zhurbin), Composer

"You guys totally made my day, week, month and year! Thanks for such an amazing performance."

- John Dankosky, Host of WNPR's "Where We Live"

"These are the types of experiences that are transformative for our students."

- David C. Howes, Principal, Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication (ISAAC)

"As our 2014-2015 Outreach Ensemble, The Asylum Quartet provided an unforgettable residency, performing and teaching 1,600 Pre-K, elementary, and middle school students in under-served areas of southeastern Connecticut. Through their outstanding, engaging, and age-appropriate programming, the quartet enriched classrooms and inspired students." 

- Pam Allen Hunter, Administrative Director, Musical Masterworks

"One can't help but smile and be pulled into their sonic world."

- Ryan Jesperson, Composer

Joseph Abad  

soprano saxophone

Joseph Abad’s repertoire spans from Bach, Debussy, Berio, and many of today’s leading composers, performing in venues throughout the nation. As a concerti soloist, he has performed with the Hamden Symphony Orchestra, the Hudson Valley Chamber Winds, The Hartt School Wind Ensemble, the Hartt Symphony Orchestra, the University of California (Davis) Symphony Orchestra, the University of California (Davis) Wind Ensemble, and the James Logan High School Wind Symphony (CA).

As a chamber musician, Joseph has performed as a member of the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra, the Generous Ensemble (CT), The Hartt School’s Performance 20/20 honors chamber music program, and The Hartt School’s Foot In The Door Ensemble. As an orchestral saxophonist, Joseph has performed with symphonies in California, Connecticut, New York, and Vermont. 

Joseph currently has his own private studio of saxophone students in Connecticut, and previously served as saxophone faculty at the Hartt School Community Division.  

He also holds an Artist Diploma from The Hartt School (saxophone performance), and degrees from University of California, Davis (BM) and Arizona State University (MM).  Joseph is from Union City, California.

Joseph is an endorsed artist for Forestone Reeds


Tony Speranza

alto saxophone

Hailing from picturesque Southern Vermont, Tony Speranza delivers energetic performances as a chamber musician and solo performer. Mr. Speranza's expanding repertoire encompasses numerous periods and styles including Bach transcriptions, classical sonatas, contemporary works utilizing live electronics and multi-effects pedals, and classic rock & roll.  As a soloist, Speranza was the winner of the MTNA Young Artist Competition for the state of Connecticut (2008 and 2011) and Vermont (2010), receiving honorable mention in the regional competition.  Speranza was a national finalist in the MTNA Chamber Music Competition (2011) as a member of the Vagus Trio. The trio also participated in the Region 8 Conference of the North American Saxophone Alliance (2011) premiering Speranza’s arrangement of Robert Carl’s 100 Views from the Bird’s Eye, and also performed at the North American Saxophone Alliance National Conference (2012).  Tony has participated the Lions Gate Trio-Brahms Schumann Project (2011), the Hartford New Music Festival (2011), and the International Day of Collaborative Music (2012).  Tony plays regularly throughout New England with the Wyld Nights Band, a classic rock band out of Brattleboro, VT.

Tony holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education summa cum laude and a Graduate Professional Diploma in Saxophone Performance from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford. Tony's primary teachers have been Kevin Burns and Carrie Koffman.

Max Schwimmer

tenor saxophone

Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Max is an avid chamber musician, soloist, educator, and musical arranger. He has performed with the Juilliard Orchestra under Marin Alsop at Carnegie Hall, the U.S. Coast Guard Band, and the Generous Ensemble. In 2012, Max served as tenor saxophonist with Philadelphia's International Opera Theater. The company's Italian tour featured the world premiere opera Buffalo Soldier by Carlo Pedini and Karen Saillant, playing to audiences in Citta della Pieve and Rome's historic Teatro Valle. Max's arrangements for saxophone ensemble include works by Philip Glass, Beethoven, Debussy, Franck, Gershwin, Piazzolla, Zorn, Imogen Heap, Ljova, Louis Thomas Hardin ("Moondog") and others. 

Max holds a Master's of Music from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford, where he studied with Carrie Koffman. He received a Bachelor of Music summa cum laude from Arizona State University's Herberger Institute School of Music, and Barrett, The Honors College at ASU. There, he studied with Dr. Timothy McAllister of the PRISM quartet. Other teachers have included Anita Handelsman and James Rotter. Max maintains a private studio in the greater Hartford area.

Max is an endorsed artist for Forestone Reeds.


Andrew Barnhart

baritone saxophone

A native of northern California, saxophonist Andrew Barnhart is a dedicated chamber musician and soloist. As a chamber musician, he has been awarded first prizes from the Coleman Chamber Music Competition, the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, the J.C. Arriaga Chamber Music Competition, and was a national finalist in both the 2011-2012 MTNA Chamber Music Competition and the North American Saxophone Alliance's Quartet Competitions in 2010 and 2012. As a soloist, Andrew was named a semi-finalist in the 2012 International Saxophone Symposium and Competition (Columbus, Georgia), and was the winner of the 2012 MTNA Young Artist Competition in the state of Connecticut. He has also won third prize in the 2013 Eastern Connecticut Symphony's Instrumental Competition, and was a winner of the 2013 Paranov Concerto Competition at The Hartt School, later performing Jacques Ibert’s Concertino da Camera with the Hartt Philharmonia. Andrew has also performed solo and quartet concerti with the UCLA Wind Ensemble, the UCLA Symphony, and the Hartt Wind Ensemble. Other performances include the 2010 Fischoff Winners Tour, including a live radio broadcast for Chicago WFMT, and the 2010 and 2012 U.S. Navy Band’s Saxophone Symposiums. Andrew has instructed saxophone at Cazadero Performing Arts Camp and performed with the UC Berkeley Summer Symphony.

Andrew holds a B.A. in Music from UCLA, where he also earned a minor in Music History, and an M.M. in Saxophone Performance from The Hartt School, where he was a member of the honors chamber music program, Performance 20/20. His primary teachers have been Dr. Keith Bohm, Dr. Douglas Masek, and Carrie Koffman.