I am blessed with the ability to make music and share it with those around me. I love that the saxophone allows me to sing a sorrowful tune, dance through a scherzo, or shout for joy. I embrace the challenges of this life. I sit down to make music and I ask myself "What must I do to make this music come alive, to find its spirit?” My satisfaction comes from working hard to perform at a higher level every day and using music to give others a momentary respite from the world.
As a teacher, I seek to help my students discover their own love of music. My students build an appreciation for the breadth of musical styles that grace the world, past and present, through playing, listening, and discussion. My hope is that they learn to recognize the positive effects that music can have on their lives as a listener, an audience member, and a performer.
Nicolas Lira is a saxophonist actively teaching and performing. Solo and chamber music performances have taken him across the Midwest and Eastern United States. In 2009, Nicolas was awarded first prize in the St. Cecilia Society Scholarship Competition in Flint, MI. Nicolas advocates new music for the saxophone and has participated in many premiers of works by both established and emerging composers.
Working with composers has lead Nicolas to explore a wide range of musical genres, stretching from classical music, to pop, and punk. Ensemble premiers have ranged from saxophone quartets, to a large contemporary music group performing an arrangement of “Two-Headed Boy” originally by the band Neutral Milk Hotel. Recently, his playing was featured on composer and songwriter Dalton Deschain’s album, “Brooklyn-bound Trains: The Apartment Demos”. Beyond collaborating with composers, Nicolas is an enthusiastic supporter of chamber music.
Nicolas is a founding member and plays tenor saxophone in the Kansas City Saxophone Quartet. While living in North Carolina he performed throughout Central North Carolina with the Neo Saxophone Quartet. At Michigan State University, he was a member of the Facade Saxophone Quartet.
Nicolas began his musical education at the piano when he was five years with his mother, Gail Lytle Lira. He was fortunate to continue studies at the keyboard until age 21 with Minsoo Sohn and Dr. Derek Polischuk. Although he picked up a saxophone when he was 10, the piano has remained part of his musical identity. Nicolas was attracted to the saxophone by its many versatile sounds.
After studying with Dr. Janell Christie in middle school and high school, Nicolas enrolled at Michigan State University. There he studied saxophone performance with Distinguished Artist Professor Joseph Lulloff. He was a member of Jazz Band Three and the Symphony Band. During summer 2010, Nicolas attended the Brevard Music Festival. While at Brevard he played in the Transylvania Symphony Band, directed by Kraig Williams. He also had the opportunity to perform Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet with the Brevard Sinfonia under Mattias Bamert. In master classes he has performed for Steven Mauk, Christopher Creviston, and Paul Nolen. Nicolas received his M.M. degree in saxophone performance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts under the guidance of Taimur Sullivan. He currently studies with Zach Shemon.
The Neo Saxophone Quartet