Lots to Report …

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Things are off to a great start at Carnegie Mellon University where I am building an ambitious saxophone program with an emphasis on excellence and providing opportunities for saxophonists to craft individual plans of study in support of their professional aspirations. A CMU saxophone quartet performed at the U. S. Navy Band International Saxophone Symposium in January, and we hosted the northeastern regional conference of the North American Saxophone Alliance in early February. Good things are happening at Carnegie Mellon.

It is a little hard to believe, but we will gather for the 29th James Houlik Saxophone Retreat at Wildacres. Our dates are June 23 – 29, 2019. As in the past, friends of the saxophone will gather for a stimulating week of study and music making in a remarkably beautiful setting. The application can be found in the Retreat section of this website.

March 24, 2019: Ewazen Concerto with the Capital Region Wind Ensemble at Schenectady County Community College School of Music.

April 6, 2019: Blue Ridge Saxophone Festival at Maiden High School, Maiden, North Carolina.

April 8, 2019: Master Class and Recital at Morehead State University, Morehead, Kentucky.

April 10, 2019: Master Class and Performance at the University of Akron, Akron, Ohio.

June 15, 2019: Recital in Pienza, Italy – featuring the music from the recording “Voices” with Italian pianist Andrea Padova.


Friday, June 1st, 2018

After 22 years at Duquesne University, I have decided to move on for a needed change AND. Beginning in the Fall of 2018 I will become Artist Lecturer in Saxophone at Carnegie Mellon University here in Pittsburgh. We’ve set the goal of a small but excellent saxophone studio with an emphasis on graduate study. I have some wonderful students joining me at CMU and I welcome inquiries from individuals with interest in an intensive and highly focused program of saxophone study.

I have two new recordings about to be released and I’ll follow up with more information when they are available. I’m particularly excited about the cd “Voices” in which I join pianist composer Andrea Padova to perform some of the wonderful music he has composed for tenor saxophone and piano. More to follow soon.

We’re now in preparation for the 28th James Houlik Saxophone Retreat at Little Switzerland, North Carolina. We will bring old faces and new together for the “rights of saxophone intensification” in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. I promise a followup report on this delightful week when we’re back.


Sunday, November 12th, 2017

True to my unfortunate track record, I am dreadfully behind in my blogging duties. That said, I haven’t been standing still.

I’m happy to report that I’ve become a D’Addario Artist performing on Reserve reeds. The reeds are quite consistent and I particularly appreciate the substantial tone that they allow me to produce. I might add that I very much enjoy working with the professionals at D’Addario. They are fellow musicians and they are clearly contributing to the improvement of our business.

In March of 2017 I made a recording in Northern Italy for the Limenmusic label. I joined with Italian composer/pianist Andrea Padova to record twelve pieces that he composed for the project which will be entitled “Voices: Ballads and Prayers”. I had played some of the music with Andrea some years ago at New York’s Merkin Hall which resulted in encouraging words from the New York Times. The music itself defies categorization in that it draws on jazz and new age flavors while simultaneously acknowledging classical values with marvelously complex rhythmic schemes and soaring melodies. It was a privilege to work with Andrea on this challenging project. Limen will release the CD/DVD set in the near future. Following the recording session Andrea and I performed this music in a recital at Lake Como, with more “Voices” concerts scheduled in Europe, and anticipated opportunities in the States next season.

The 27th James Houlik Saxophone Retreat at Wildacres was yet another grand success. The highlight of the Retreat was having composer Sherwood Shaffer as our composer in residence. A great deal of his wonderful music was performed during the week, including the premier of “Music for Wildacres” for flute, tenor saxophone and piano. Flutist Goran Marcusson joined pianist Vahan Sargsyan and me to offer the first performance. Master instrument technician Jeff Smith also paid a visit to the Retreat for a highly information session on saxophone adjustment and maintenance. As always, wonderful things happen at Wildacres and we’ll be back there again next summer: June 23 – 30, 2018.


Sunday, March 6th, 2016

I’ll be joining the faculty of the Summer Music Study in Hungary during the summer. The program takes place in the beautiful University of Szeged in southern Hungary. The saxophone program will combine serious study of our instrument with plenty of opportunities to experience a beautiful and historically rich country. To learn more about the program go to:

You are certainly welcome to be in touch with me directly with any questions you might have, but the overall program is being overseen at the above address.


Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

I sure have fallen short of my best intentions to post a new installment every four to six weeks. BUT, I’ll fearlessly take another stab at maintaining fresh news on my blog. For now, the big news is that I’ve become a Yamaha Artist and I’m playing a Yamaha Custom EX with a gold plated neck, my James Houlik mouthpiece and Alexander D.C. reeds. I went to the Yamaha Atelier on 5th Avenue in New York at the end of the summer to pick out an instrument. The staff there was wonderful, and patient I might add, and I had my choice of more than a few fine instruments. The EX I selected simply spoke to me and when we added a gold plated neck it became the hands down winner. I’ve been playing on it during the first half of the season with recitals at Ithaca College and Mansfield University, followed by an epic tour of China. I really love the horn, it has a wonderful evenness of tone quality top to bottom and it is a “room filler” without be brassy. As you can imagine, I’m in the process of making friends with my new Yamaha having played my last instrument for something like twenty years. This is a great move for me … I feel challenged to explore the wonderful potential that this horn presents. Add to this the fact that it is a genuine pleasure working with the folks at Yamaha, the key words being pleasant a professional. I’m feeling pretty virtuous about finally getting back to the blog, and since tomorrow is new years even I will make a resolution to stay with it. My next entry will be an update on my very interesting Chinese tour.


Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

We had a great time at the James Houlik Saxophone Retreat in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.  As usual, a wonderful group of saxophonists gathered to celebrate our instrument, to grow as players, and to begin new friendships.  The concerts were terrific with our quartets and soloists playing interesting music, and playing it well.  The large ensemble, under the able baton of Jose Riojas, was killer, playing new arrangements from Jose and making that irresistible soprano to bass wall of sound.  We enjoyed a surprise visit from Branford Marsalis who was actually visiting our sister flute retreat, to coach with Stephen Preston, British baroque music expert and flute retreat faculty.  Branford made a cameo appearance performing Chick Corea’s La Fiesta with one of our student groups. It was particularly delightful to hear his beautiful soprano sound when he teamed up with Stephen Preston for a duo performance.  Marc Mellits, a composer whose music is getting a lot of attention from saxophonists, also visited the Retreat.  He spoke to us about his music and about writing for saxophone.  During his visit the premiere performance of his Octet for double saxophone quartet took place, in another solid arrangement by Jose Riojas, the piece having begun its life as a double string quartet.  The New Century Quartet played beautifully on several occasions, and I played a new arrangement, by Jose of course, of Pedro Iturralde’s Pequena Czardas, with the large ensemble, in addition to my performances with pianist Vahan Sargsyan.  Master class sessions presented fine performances of music by Ewazen, Milhaud, Decruck, and Peck, among others.  During one of our technique and topic sessions we had a visit from Dr. Lea Pearson, body mapper and musician’s health expert, for a session on breathing.  I’ve never heard this topic made clearer and I trust that we all benefitted from her important presentation.

ADDENDUM:  In my recent report on activities during the past season I neglected to report the premiere performance of “Arcadian Tone Poems” with the Duquesne University Symphony at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Hall last November.  This is a delightful piece and you can hear some samples of the four movements on YouTube if you’d like.

UPCOMING PERFORMANCE:  Recital with panist Andrea Padova at the SlowFlute Festival in Salsomaggiore, Italy – August 8, 2014.  There is a rumor that the performance will be followed by wonderful food and wine to match  …  it is Italy after all!

I’ll report in again after Italy, and once the new school year is up and running at Duquesne.


Monday, June 9th, 2014

We’ve had a great year in the Saxophone studio at Duquesne University.  Above all, lots of great music making.  This was a year of many saxophone recitals, and included in these were performances of the seldom heard Paul Hindemith Trio op. 47  for piano, viola, and tenor Saxophone, and the even more seldom heard Sextour Mystique by Heitor Villa-Lobos for flute, oboe, alto Saxophone, guitar, celesta, and harp.  The instrumentation poses a real challenge in terms of assembling the needed troops but the results are worth it  …  what a magical piece it is, and it was composed in 1917!  At Duquesne all saxophone students perform in quartets as a key component of developing real musicianship.  Our graduate quartet, “The Green Light,” had a particularly good year with many performances in Pittsburgh, and an epic tour in Texas, with a side trip to perform at the University of Oklahoma.  You can sample their playing on YouTube if you’re interested.  We had some wonderful Saxophone guests this year with Dr. James Umble presenting a master class for the studio, and a visit from the h2 Saxophone Quartet.  h2 performed for us and also coached student groups  …  we had a great time!

As for myself, it was an exciting year.  I also toured in Texas, with master classes and recitals at Texas Christian University, the University of North Texas, the University of Texas – San Antonio, etc.  I played Russell Peck’s The Upward Stream with the Ludwig Symphony in Atlanta, but the big news is the new version with band which I performed for the first time with the University of Michigan Band.  I went directly from Ann Arbor to Lisbon, Portugal, which I played the new band version of the Peck two more times with the band of the Lisbon Conservatory of Music.

I’m now in the throes of preparing for the 24th James Houlik Saxophone Retreat in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.  This event has become an annual highlight for me and there’s no doubt that this will be another special time “on the Mountain.”

I’m not going to tie myself to a blogging schedule that I will inevitably fail to observe, but I do intend to check in frequently, and whenever something of interest comes up.

The New JamesHoulik.net

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Welcome to the NEW jameshoulik.net. Thanks for stopping by.