Arts & Culture

UK Mega-Sax Earns Awards, Standing Ovation at Elmhurst Jazz Festival

Kirby Davis and Adam O’Neal were featured in the Mega-Sax Quartet performance of "Full English Breakfast" by Mower

Watch above Noah Beckett’s solo in “Cantaloupe Island,” written by Herbie Hancock and arranged by Jeff Driskill. ​


LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 2, 2020) The University of Kentucky Mega-Sax Quartet, under the direction of Miles Osland, received a standing ovation for its recent performance at the 53rd annual Elmhurst College Jazz Festival held Feb. 20-23, in Illinois. In addition, all four students received Outstanding Soloist Awards for their performances.

The Mega-Sax quartets and quintets at the UK School of Music perform with and without a rhythm section under the direction of Miles Osland, director of Jazz Studies and professor of saxophone. Now in his 30th year of teaching at UK, Osland continues to increase awareness of these ensembles through Mega-Sax live performances and recordings.

UK’s Mega-Sax Quartet that performed at Elmhurst included music performance senior Kirby Davis, of Greenville, Kentucky, on alto saxophone; music education senior Jacob O’Donnell, of Lexington, on tenor saxophone; music performance junior Noah Beckett, of Lexington, on tenor saxophone; and graduate student Adam O’Neal, of Huntington, West Virginia, on baritone saxophone.

Davis and O’Neal were featured on a piece titled “Full English Breakfast” by renowned English composer Mike Mower. O’Donnell and Davis played “Hiatus” also by Mower at the break-neck tempo of a quarter note. Beckett’s solo was showcased in the song “Cantaloupe Island” written by Herbie Hancock and arranged by Jeff Driskill.

Commenting on the quartet’s concert, a judge for the festival described the performance as “A breath-taking example of musicianship, artistry, craftsmanship, showbiz and creativity!”

The nation’s best college and university jazz bands perform annually each February at Elmhurst. The festival of performances and educational opportunities, which runs three days, gives college musicians the opportunity to play in front of some of the greatest names in professional jazz, who offer critiques and present a variety of awards.

The School of Music at the UK College of Fine Arts has garnered a national reputation for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, music therapy, composition, and theory and music history.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.