"Critics claim that hearing saxophonist Harry White is like hearing the instrument with new, different ears... White's variety in articulation, his silky soft tone and his precision make his playing inimitable. During the performance he is like a mystic sunk in deep contemplation." These lines are from a review in the “Badische Zeitung” which was reprinted in the international music magazine “Das Orchester”.
Harry White grew up in Mississippi and received his first instruction there from Warren and Marti Lutz. He studied with Lawrence Gwozdz at the University of Southern Mississippi, with Paul Cohen at the Manhattan School of Music and with the pioneer of classical saxophone Sigurd Raschèr in upstate New York.
Harry White was a member of the Raschèr Saxophone Quartet between 1990-2001 and regards his time in the quartet as one of his most influential musical experiences. As a member of this ensemble he performed world premières of composers like Luciano Berio, Philip Glass, Sofia Gubaidulina and Charles Wuorinen with appearances in many of the important halls of Europe and the USA: Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center New York, Kennedy Center Washington D.C., Philharmonic Hall Berlin, Royal Festival Hall London, Opera Bastille Paris, etc.
Since 2001 he has been active as a saxophone soloist and free-lance musician. Critics consistently praise White for the unique, gentle tone quality he produces on his historical saxophone and for his dynamic interpretations of old and new works. He is fascinated with the lyrical possibilities of the saxophone and has recorded songs of Edvard Grieg (arr. for saxophone and piano) with the composer, pianist and "Lied" expert Edward Rushton. This summer (2014) White and Rushton recorded a CD of vocalises from 23 composers, including Arthur Honegger, Jacques Ibert, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Olivier Messiaen, Carl Nielsen, Francis Poulenc and Maurice Ravel. The recording will appear in 2015.
He has collaborated for many years with the organist Jakoba Marten-Büsing, with the pianists Hans Adolfsen and Edward Rushton, and with the cellist Pi-Chien Chin. In 2006 he founded the Harry White Trio with Edward Rushton and Pi-Chin Chien, an ensemble dedicated to expanding the trio repertoire for saxophone, cello and piano. Composers Daniel Fueter, Roger Girod, Fabian Müller, Rolf Urs Ringger, Edward Rushton, Martin Schlumpf, Martin Wettstein und Stefan Wirth have written music for the ensemble.
As a soloist White has appeared with many orchestras, including Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, Bochumer Symphoniker, Orchester der Beethovenhalle Bonn, Württembergisches Kammerorchester und Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine; as an orchestral saxophonist he has worked with the Nationaltheater-Orchester Mannheim, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, as well as the Berlin Philharmonic in two concerts led by Sir Simon Rattle.
Since 2009 Harry White has been the artistic director of "Swiss Saxophone Orchestra". At the Zurich Universtiy of the Arts White earned a Master of Advanced Studies in Music Physiology with an emphasis on breathing technique for wind players. He teaches saxophone at Musikschule Konservatorium Zürich.
"Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung"
White performed a Suite by Alois Haba which displayed his phenomenal variety in articulation, from a gentle, velvety legato to a molto secco staccato. His virtuosic, agile playing in the sonata by Johann Friedrich Fasch is amazing; his warm, delicate, sensitive performance of a song by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel is enchanting.
"Süddeutsche Zeitung" Munich
The saxophonist found the right balance between expressivity and restraint.
"Rondo" (German music magazine)
Harry White (a former member of the famous Raschèr Saxophone Quartet) plays these [Grieg] songs with such bravura and subtle differentiation that words seem dull by comparison. Edward Rushton is an ideal accompanist: virtuosic, colourful and sublime playing-a supreme performer...
"Badische Zeitung" Lörrach
Do these transcriptions [of Grieg songs] work? The answer is definitely yes! The sound of the alto saxophone (reminiscent of the horn and the clarinet) has something seductive about it, and when the instrument is played with Harry White's virtuosity and sensitivity, Grieg's folkloristic tone goes straight to the heart. Harry White's sound strongly resembles the human voice, his playing naturally conveys the melancholic, yearning character of these songs…In Edward Rushton-recommended by Irwin Gage-White has a colleague who plays with impeccable precision and wide-awake sensitivity.
"Fränkische Nachrichten" Würzburg
In the "Stamping Dance" [from Bartok's Rumanian Folk Dances] the solo alto (Harry White) stunned the listeners with clarinet-like colours.
White succeeded in making a refined arrangement [of Erwin Schulhoff's Hot Sonate] for small ensemble which irresistibly captures the sumptuousness of the music as well as it wittily emphasizes the many humorous details. Harry White played as bewitchingly as he did "hot" by making his intense vocal sound glow beautifully. His performance of the third movement "Lamentuoso ma molto grottesco e sempre glissando" was totally enrapturing…White played with supple smoothness, combining a sensuous velvety tone with brilliant virtuosity.
"Allgemeine Zeitung" Hanover
Harry White is a saxophonist of the very highest order...he displayed a fine feeling for the aural sensuousness of his instrument and shaped the music with fluid calmness…White gave a breathtaking performance…Whether it was pizzicato in all its variations, multiphonics or the tiniest glissandi, nothing was too difficult for the soloist. As if it were nothing he conjured up an enchanting pianissimo free of any embouchure problems, strode through his instrument's diverse registers reflectively and with subtle differentiation, and gave the music an angelic aura.