Dr. Rhett Bender

dr rhett bender - headshot

Rhett Bender, D.Mus.A.

Professor of Music
Saxophone, Clarinet, Chamber Music

Phone: (541) 552-6534
Office: MU 207
E-Mail: bender@sou.edu


BM, 1992, Iowa State University
MM, 1994, D.Mus.A., 2000, University of Georgia

Other Professional Activities:

  • Director of the Siskiyou Saxophone Workshop
  • Director: Ashland Chamber Music Workshops
  • Region 1 Director: North American Saxophone Alliance
  • Founding member and soprano saxophone, Globe Saxophone Quartet
  • Director Siskiyou Saxophone Orchestra
  • Director of the Cascade Clarinet Choir
  • Founding member of Trillium Ensemble

Rhett Bender, D.Mus.A., is a Professor of Music at Southern Oregon University Performing Arts where he teaches saxophone, clarinet, and chamber music.  In the summers he is the Director of the Ashland Chamber Music Workshop and the Siskiyou Saxophone Workshop. Bender is a founding member and soprano saxophonist with the Mazama Quartet and Globe Saxophone Quartet, the Conductor of the Cascade Clarinet Consort and the Siskiyou Saxophone Orchestra.  He is the Region 1 Director of the North American Saxophone Alliance (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming). He travels yearly to China as saxophone guest artist-teacher at the Sichuan Conservatory in Chengdu, the School of Arts of Yantai University and the Yantai Children’s Palace of Music and Art. Prior to his appointment at SOU, he taught at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Emory University in Atlanta, and the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program for the Artistically Talented in Valdosta. Bender attended the University of Nebraska, Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, and earned degrees from Iowa State University (BM) and the University of Georgia (MM, DMA) where he was a student of Kenneth Fischer.

As and Artist-Teachers Rhett Bender was feature interview on the cover of the May/June 2011 issue of Saxophone Journal. As the Director of the Ashland Chamber Music Workshop he was featured in the March 2012 issue of Strings Magazine for the innovative approach to chamber music education in “An Intensive Chamber Program That Can Keep You Guessing.” Bender has presented chamber music education programs for young students in California, Nevada, Washington, Wyoming and throughout China sponsored by Yamaha Corporation.

Rhett Bender’s book An Annotated Bibliography of American Saxophone Quartets is published by Lambert Academic Publishers and he is the American/English editor of the Aurelia Saxophone Quartet Method Book. An active soloist and clinician, Bender has performed or presented master-classes at the XIIIth, XIVth, and XVIIth World Saxophone Congresses, Chengdu China International Contemporary Music Festival, Chengdu Saxophone Forum, Montana Saxophone Festival, the College Music Society, the Kentucky Music Teachers Association Conference, the Iowa Band Master’s Association, the College Band Directors National Association, the North American Saxophone Alliance, and the Southeastern Composers’ League. In 1998 he won a first prize in the Ladies Musical Club of Seattle Debut Tour Solo Competition. As a member of the Athens Saxophone Quartet (now the Globe Saxophone Quartet), Bender was a first prize winner in 1995 National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors National Symposium Chamber Music Competition and twice competed in the semi-final round of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

At Southern Oregon University Performing Arts, Bender has developed a studio nationally recognized for its high quality saxophone students. Alumni have gone to top graduate schools and jobs teaching at the high school, middle school and university level or become professional performers. What began as a quartet to feature the strongest students, evolved into the popular Siskiyou Saxophone Orchestra. Successful tours of the SOU Siskiyou Saxophones to Mexico in 2001, and China in 2005, 2007 and 2011; attracted the attention of dozens of composers/arrangers who have written over 30 works for the Siskiyou Saxophones. In 2007 the SSO was honored with sponsorship by Mercury Saxophones LTD to perform at the Shanghai China Music Trade Show and in 2009 the SSO was selected for performance at the XVth World Saxophone Congress in Bangkok, Thailand. In 2011 following the success of the SSO, Bender was given a grant from the Provost’s Office at SOU to create the Cascade Clarinet Consort.

In the spring of 2013 Rhett Bender premiered Carleton Macy’s concerto Duality for alto saxophone and wind ensemble dedicated to Rhett Bender and the Southern Oregon University Wind Ensemble. Composers that have written for Bender include: T. J. Anderson, Todd Barton, I’lana Cotton, Theodore Dollarhide, Roshanne Etezady, Howard Frazin, Mark Jacobs, Derek Keller, John Kline, Mark Knippel, Dan Maske, John McDonald, Jeffrey Richmond, Robert Romza, P. Peter Sacco, Wayne Slawson, Greg Steinke, Stephen Truelove, Shih-Hui Chen and Tim Waters. He has been a featured soloist with the Carson City Symphony, Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra, St. Norbert Wind Ensemble, Skyline Brass Quintet, Rogue Wind Ensemble, Emory Wind Ensemble, Rogue Symphonic Band, Ashland City Band, and numerous university bands and orchestras. His live performances have been broadcast over KING-FM in Seattle, Peach State Public Radio, Iowa Public Radio, and Jefferson Public Radio. He is one of the featured saxophonists (volume 1 and 4) on AUR’s landmark seven volume CD set, America’s Millennium Tribute to Adolphe Sax. His solo saxophone CDs Transformations and Meldings were distributed by mp3.com.

Rhett Bender is a Yamaha performing artist and performs on the YSS-875EXHGGP soprano saxophone, the YAS-875EXGP alto saxophone, the YTS-875EX tenor saxophone, the YBS-62II baritone saxophone, the YCL-681 Eb clarinet, YCL-CSGHG Bb and A clarinets, and the YCL-622II bass clarinet.