The Vitral Saxophone Quartet combines the forces of professional saxophonists, Oscar Gongora, Roman Filiu, Alejandro Rios and Oliver Santana. Their goal is to demonstrate the beauty of the saxophone by focusing on a largely unknown, yet rich and colorful repertoire of Cuban and Latin American composers.
This chamber music quartet was formed with the encouragement of the legendary classical clarinetist, Latin Jazz saxophonist, composer, and 14 time Grammy winner, Paquito D' Rivera.
Oscar Gongora is a graduate of the prestigious Manhattan School of Music in New York and the founder and director of The Vitral Saxophone Quartet. At the age of ten he began intensive training in The Professional School of Art under Professor Mario Lombida in Camaguey, Cuba. Gongora was the first place winner for two years in the prestigious Amadeo Roldan National Competition in Havana, Cuba. He continued at The Higher Institute of Art in Havana Cuba in 1984, under Professor Miguel A. Villafruela, the first prize winner of The Music Conservatory of Paris in 1982.
In 1986 Gongora received a master class at the ISA "Higher Institute of Art" from Daniel Deffayet, world renowned honorary Professor of The Music Conservatory of Paris.
In 1992 he entered the United States and received a merit scholarship to attend Manhattan School of Music in NY. There he continued his college career with Dr. Paul Cohen who studied under Sigurd Rascher, one of the founders of the Classical Saxophone School in the United States.
Oscar Gongora graduated with High Honors in 1997 with a Bachelor in Music performance from Manhattan School of Music.
After graduating he then continued on to get his new degree in Music Education from New Jersey City University. Presently, he is an instrumental teacher and a concert band director in the public school system.
Roman Filiú is a Cuban saxophone player who graduated from the Higher Institute of Art in Havana Cuba. Mr. Filiú was a saxophone professor at the National School of Music in Havana. From 1997 to 2006 he was part of the prestigious Afro-Cuban band Irakere. At this time he played in world renowned places such as, Carnegie Hall in New York, and the Chicago Symphony Hall. While working with this group they recorded Babalú and won a nomination to the Latin Jazz Grammy Awards. Mr. Roman Filiú has played in many of the most important international Jazz festivals: The Montreux Jazz Festival, the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival and with his quintet at the Madrid Jazz Festival. Throughout his career Roman Filiú has worked with renowned musicians like Michael Mossman, Steve Coleman, Roy Hargrove and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, among many others. In 2006 Mr. Filiú released his first album entitled, “Blowin Reflections”, a mix of Afro Cuban rhythms. His brand new CD “Musae” was released in August 2012.
Alejandro Rios started his music studies in 1987 in the Vocational Arts School in Santa Clara, Cuba. In 1994, he won two awards in the National Amadeo Roldan Festival. He continued his music career at the National Music School in 1995 in Havana, Cuba. He graduated in 2000 and continued his career in the ISA. Alejandro graduated with high honors from the Higher Institute of Art in 2004. He performed and recorded with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra and Chamber ensembles from 2004 to 2007.
Alejandro appeared as soloist with the Villa Clara Symphony Orchestra in 2007. In 2001, he received two Musicalia Awards: Soloist and Cuban Music Performance. He started a chamber music duet with renowned Cuban pianist Maria Del Henar Navarro. He became part of the teaching staff of the National Music School and The Amadeo Roldan Conservatory since 2001, and became a professor in the Superior Arts Institute since his graduation in 2004. As a professor, along with two of his colleagues, he defined the national saxophone curriculum for elemental and intermediate pre-college level students. He founded the S@x.Fon Quartet in 2004 and performed in many venues across Cuba. The Quartet received the Musicalia Award for Chamber Music in 2007.
Oliver Santana is a native of the island of Puerto Rico, Oliver Santana has been on the music scene for over 15 years. His talents as a gifted saxophonist, woodwind doubler, arranger, and educator have made him an in-demand musician who has performed in various venues around the world. As a multi-skilled musician, you can often find Oliver in the Jazz, Classical, and Latin Music scenes. Oliver is currently a member of The Vitral Saxophone Quartet, sponsored by Paquito D’Rivera. He is also the Lead Alto Saxophonist in John Beasley’s Grammy nominated MONK’estra based out of New York. Oliver was a former saxophone player and arranger for New Birth Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA and is currently the Saxophone player for The Cityline Church in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Oliver began his musical studies at Berklee College of Music, and received his bachelor’s degree in Classical Saxophone from The Conservatory of Music in Puerto Rico. He later moved to Georgia to serve as the arranger and Lead Alto Saxophonist in the world traveling Warner Robins Air Force Band. He was awarded tuition assistance and completed his Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies at Georgia State University, under the guidance of Dr. Gordon Vernick. Oliver is currently enrolled at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Under the mentorship of Dr. Paul Cohen, he won the Graduate Concerto Competition in 2014, and is expected to graduate with a Doctorate in Music Arts in October of 2017. As a music educator, Oliver began his teaching career in Caguas, Puerto Rico at the Caguas Cultural Center at the young age of 22. Living in Georgia, he also taught music theory and aural skills at Instituto CanZion. Currently, Oliver is the Woodwind specialist at the Music Tech Contemporary Music School, and also holds a faculty position at County College of Morris as a Saxophone Professor.