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08/26/2014 | Music | Created by Darla Martin Tucker

Back in 2005, Andrew Harrison was a saxophone-playing, music-loving pre-med major at La Sierra University.

Saxophonist and La Sierra University alum Andrew Harrison and his group, Fiero, will perform on Aug. 30.
Saxophonist Andrew Harrison, Fiero artistic director. (Photos courtesy of Andrew Harrison)

By the summer of 2006, after performing a year with the university’s Wind Ensemble in Hole Memorial Auditorium and with various quartets, he realized his true passion. “I was being much more fulfilled by the music part of my education than the pre-med classes,” he said. Eight years later, after segueing into a new career path with the help of La Sierra’s music department, Harrison is pursuing a doctorate in musical arts at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music and launching a new saxophone performance group.

The group Fiero, a saxophone ensemble of award-winning artists founded at the Thornton School, will give its debut performance Sat., Aug. 30 at 8 p.m., at La Sierra’s Hole Memorial Auditorium. Admission is free.

The saxophonists aim to bring “new music to audiences, and invigorate older works with the gorgeous sound of the saxophone,” says Harrison. He serves as Fiero’s artistic director and is joined by Isaac Lopez, alto saxophone, Emma Reinhart, tenor saxophone, and John Hallberg, baritone saxophone. They will perform the works of Jean Francaix, George Frideric Handel, Thierry Eschaich, David Maslanka and others.

For Harrison, it was a natural step to debut Fiero at La Sierra University. “LSU is my home,” he said. “I grew up in the La Sierra University Church, I went to La Sierra Academy, and La Sierra University helped me figure out where my passion was. I owe the entire La Sierra community everything I have, and a feel very blessed to be able to perform as a professional in Hole Memorial where it all started.”

In 2006, music faculty member Elvin Rodriguez, now the department chair, guided Harrison’s entre into the music industry by arranging for Harrison and a few of his classmates to attend a summer festival in Prague, Czech Republic. “They had never taken a saxophone player before, but with Dr. R’s help, I was able to get in,” said Harrison. “That three-week program changed my life, and when I returned, I immediately changed my major to music performance. With the help of the faculty, they helped me prepare for auditions for some of the top music programs in the country, and in the winter of 2007, I was admitted into the saxophone studio of legendary classical saxophonist Harvey Pittel [University of Texas, Austin], where I finished my bachelor’s degree and received my masters degree.”

Harrison has performed throughout the United States and Europe including at the Prague Conservatory, the Rudolfinum concert hall in Prague, and Bates Hall in Boston. His music has been featured on television and radio networks including LLBN-TV, KUT-FM 90.5, and KUSC-FM 91.5. He is also featured on the Grammy-nominated Naxos album, “Over the Rainbow and Bach Again,” and has premiered more than 20 new works by emerging and preeminent composers. Harrison has won numerous awards including the SAI Young Artist Competition.

For further information please call 951-785-2036. La Sierra University is located at 4500 Riverwalk Parkway, Riverside.