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Paradigm Lost

Premiere Recording of Saxophone Quartets by Lee Hyla, Chen Yi, Bernard Rands, David Rakowski, Augusta Read Thomas, and John Adams

The Latest Update

Paradigm Lost was released last fall!

Posted on March 26, 2018 by PRISM Quartet, Inc.

At long last, PRISM’s Paradigm Lost album was released last fall by our own label, XAS Records. We have a special page for it on our website at https://www.prismquartet.com/recording/paradigm-lost/

You can stream it on all of your favorite platforms, including Spotify, Amazon, and YouTube!


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Paradigm Lost Concert Trailer #2

Posted on March 22, 2017 by PRISM Quartet, Inc.

Check out this new trailer for the PRISM Quartet’s Paradigm Lost CD release concerts on April 1 in NYC (National Opera Center) and April 2 in Philly (Settlement Music School). Complete info at http://www.prismquartet.com/concerts/

This video features “South” from Compass by David Rakowski. Very beautiful writing, and especially poignant harmonies.

The album cover is by Jon Rohrer from Flux Design. Jon has designed all of PRISM’s CDs for more than 10 years. This one features an image of light refracting through a window onto a wall in his studio. The glass is 100 years old, and has evolved to alter light in some very poetic ways.

Paradigm Lost CD Release Concert Trailer

Posted on February 12, 2017 by PRISM Quartet, Inc.

We’re happy to share a new video trailer for the PRISM Quartet’s Paradigm Lost CD release concerts on April 1 in NYC (National Opera Center) and April 2 in Philly (Settlement Music School). Comlplete info at http://www.prismquartet.com/concerts/


Posted on May 10, 2016 by PRISM Quartet, Inc.

PRISM fell behind schedule, but finally recorded Chen Yi’s “Not Alone” on March 23, 2016, the final work for PRISM’s “Paradigm Lost” album. We recorded at First Presbyterian Church of Ypsilanti in Michigan, a really beautiful sounding space, using all of the same equipment and the same engineer as we used for the other works. The space has a different sound than Stamps Auditorium at the U of MI, so “Not Alone” will have a distinct room resonance, but we’re sure it will be compatible.

Everything is now in the can, and editing, mixing and mastering will be completed by early fall. We’re also thinking about artwork and design, and are excited to see what our firm, Flux Design, comes up with. 

One more thing that is really exciting for PRISM: we launched our own label last month, XAS Records, after signing an international distribution deal with Naxos. So we’re excited to release “Paradigm Lost” on XAS. Innova has been a fabulous partner for PRISM for many year, and we’ll miss working the the great folks there, especially Philip and Chris.

Recording Sessions!

Posted on September 7, 2015 by PRISM Quartet, Inc.

PRISM recorded CD repertoire by Lee Hyla, Bernard Rands, David Rakowski, Augusta Read Thomas, and John Adams at Stamps Auditorium at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on August 27-31, 2015. The natural resonance of the space was beautiful, and we’re looking forward to having the sessions edited and mixed. 

Next up is Chen Yi’s music, which we’ll record in early October while in residence at the University of Missouri – Kansas City.


The PRISM Quartet will produce a recording on Innova (distributed worldwide by Naxos) dedicated to the memory of Lee Hyla (1952-2014), a dearly missed friend whose beautiful saxophone quartet, Paradigm Lost, will form the title track. The recording will feature all-world premiere recordings of PRISM commissions by many of the nation’s most prominent composers, as follows:

Winner of the Stoeger Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Rome Prize, Lee Hyla (b. 1952) composed Paradigm Lost (12 minutes) for PRISM in 2004 with support from Chamber Music America. Hyla: “Paradigm Lost is in one continuous movement and explores the contrast between quiet, delicate, recessive music, and more aggressive takes on what, down deep, is similar material. The attempts to resolve these different takes, or the failure to resolve them, are at the heart of the piece.”

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, Bernard Rands (b. 1934) composed Prism (Memo 6b) (10 minutes) for PRISM in 2008. Rands: “The work addresses contemporary virtuosity and expressive capacities, and explores a wide range of the saxophone’s associations and characteristics from singing, lyrical, cantilena, melodic lines to energetic, driving, rhythmic, passages.”

Winner of the Rome Prize and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, David Rakowski (b. 1958) composed Compass (19 minutes) in 2010 as part of a consortium commissioning project led by PRISM with nine other saxophone quartets. Rakowski: “W is about notes passed antiphonally through the group under a torrent of brief jazz licks; N is a jazz scherzo that is about quick handoffs of quick gestures and tight scoring; S is a slow movement that draws long melodies out phrases that begin simply with octave leaps; and E is a take-no-prisoners finale about repeated notes and gestures that explode out of them.”

Winner of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEA, Chen Yi composed Not Alone (18 minutes) for PRISM and Nai Ni Chen Dance Company in 2014 with support from New Music USA. The work explores the realm of identity, independence and introspection. It is inspired by a famous Tang Dynasty Poem by Li Bai, “Drinking Alone Under the Moon.”

The CD will also include premiere recordings of two short compositions not commissioned by PRISM: Squeeze (3.5 minutes), a work composed in 2007 by Guggenheim Fellow and Pulitzer Prize finalist Augusta Read Thomas; and an excerpt of the orchestra work Fearful Symmetries (4 minutes), composed by Pulitzer and Grammy Award winner John Adams in 1988 and adapted for sax quartet by PRISM’s Tim McAllister in 2012 under Adams’ direction.

The project is essential to the PRISM Quartet’s mission, “To disseminate contemporary music for saxophones by presenting the PRISM Quartet in commissioning, performing, residency/outreach, and recording programs.” These pieces represent each composer’s first work for saxophone quartet. Together, they explore an astounding range of approaches to composition, profoundly expanding the saxophone’s sound world through remarkable creativity and rigor. The project will enable PRISM to share these compositions with world.

Paradigm Lost will be recorded in 6/2015; edited in 7-8/2015, mixed in 9/2015. Artwork/design and linter notes will be prepared in 9-10/2015. The CD will be released, marketed/publicized in February 2016.



Project Media

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This sample demonstrates the performance level of the PRISM Quartet in a studio recording titled DEDICATION released by Innova in 2011. Dedication is a collection of very short works composed in 2004 in celebration of PRISM’s 20th birthday.

1. Roshanne Etezady: Inkling (0:00)
2. Perry Goldstein: Out of Bounds (1:08)
3. Greg Wannamaker: speed metal organum blues (2:32)
4. Tim Ries*: Lu (3:45)
5. Ken Ueno: July 23, from sunrise to sunset (6:23)
6. Donnacha Dennehy: Mild, Medium-Lasting Artificial Happiness (7:42)

Start and End Dates



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

5 updates
Last update on March 26, 2018

Project Created By

NYC and Philly
Intriguing programs of great beauty and breadth have distinguished the PRISM Quartet as one of America’s foremost chamber ensembles. PRISM seeks to place the saxophone in unexpected contexts, chart fresh musical territory, and to challenge, inspire, and move audiences. “A bold ensemble that set the standard for contemporary-classical saxophone quartets” (The New York Times), PRISM was…

In Collaboration With

Record label
St. Paul, Minnesota


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