“I hope the classical saxophone will be able to take its rightful place in the music world.”
— Asya Fateyeva, classical saxophonist
Most people, when they hear the word “saxophone”, will conjure up the sound of a jazz saxophone rather than consider the potential of a classical saxophone. But wait – Asya Fateyeva is driven by a vision to change that. Her hope is that “the classical saxophone will be able to take its rightful place in the music world.” One look at her impressive biography to date shows that the young musician will likely see her hope fulfilled: In 2014 she was the first woman to reach the final of the renowned Adolphe Sax International Competition in Belgium, where she played herself into third place. Her success is grounded in the comprehensive tuition she has received from numerous famous teachers of the French school of classical saxophone playing.
Asya Fateyeva was born in Kerch on the Crimean peninsula in 1990. She remembers well how she could taste the salty air on her tongue on her way to music school there. Her father, a professional footballer, and mother supported her love of music from an early age. Fateyeva was six when she began taking piano lessons. “My first piano teacher, Valentina Nikishina, sowed the seeds of my love of the arts and taught me the intensity and depth of the Russian school,” Asya Fateyeva recalls. Making music “with a Russian soul” is what still characterises this successful saxophonist, even though the French school now pervades her playing.
Asya Fateyeva discovered the saxophone at the age of ten. It was actually her father who wanted to take up the instrument, but the warm sound of the saxophone soon captivated her. “I fell in love as soon as I heard the first note and was lucky to find an excellent teacher so quickly.” It was in Simferopol that Lilija Russanova taught her the French school of saxophone playing. After only six months Asya Fateyeva was ready to play in an orchestra.
She went on to study with Professor Margarita Shaposhnikova at the famous Gnessin Institute in Moscow and took master classes in Gap, France. Asya Fateyeva moved to Germany in 2004 together with her sister and parents. Asya soon moved on to Cologne, where she became a junior student of the French Canadian Daniel Gauthier, the first to hold a Chair of Classical Saxophone.
Daniel Gauthier and his wife took Asya Fateyeva in as their foster daughter so that she could finish her school education in Cologne. “I had my own room, and free board and lodging,” she remembers with gratitude. “The fact that I now speak German with a French accent is one of the results of the time I spent there.” At the age of 17 the highly gifted Fateyeva began her regular course of studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln. Study visits to France, where she was taught by Claude Delangle in Paris and by Jean-Denis Michat in Lyons, provided crucial creative inspiration. Asya Fateyeva went on to study for a Master’s in Chamber Music with Professor Niklas Schmidt at the Hamburg School of Music and Theatre.
“I want to continue to mature as a musician,” says Asya Fateyeva. The multi-award winning musician has already played with numerous renowned orchestras, including the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Since 2014 she has been teaching Classical Saxophone at the Musikhochschule Münster, with an ambition which is so typical for her: “I want to raise the bar of saxophone playing in Germany.” Music critics confirm that this is by no means pie in the sky: According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Fateyeva is a “sensation for the music world”; the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote that her playing beguiles her listeners because she plays her instrument “so elegantly and effortlessly”.
Now a resident of Hamburg, Fateyeva also loves playing tenor saxophone with the acclaimed Alliage Quintet. The ensemble gives her the opportunity to play masterpieces from the Classical era, arranged for piano and four saxophones. It also helps her expand her own repertoire, given that Adolphe Sax did not invent the saxophone until the 1840s. That is why Fateyeva, who also plays soprano and alto saxophone, transcribes Baroque or Classical works for her own instrument. “Bach’s sonatas for the viola da gamba and Schumann’s pieces, for instance, sound wonderful played on the classical saxophone,” she enthuses.
Fateyeva’s goal is to inspire contemporary composers to write for the classical saxophone. “We need more pieces to be commissioned for solo saxophone and orchestra,” says Asya Fateyeva. And it is her mission to ensure this vision becomes reality. Asya Fateyeva has the ability, the charisma and the energy to secure a new, important place for the classical saxophone in the minds of music institutions and the hearts of music fans.