Reactions to the 2011 Musical Saw Festival

New York State Assemblymember Aravella Simotas honored the Musical Saw Festival with the following (click on image to enlarge):

Citation of honor from NY State Assemblymember Aravella Simotas

Aravella Simotas
Photographer: Harris Graber

Hi Natalia–
I hope you have had the chance to crash! What a wonderful event you created. I enjoyed every performance and thought the final saw “orchestral” numbers were terrific. I could see everyone taking cues from you. And I also observed so many playing styles, more than i could have imagined.
Best, Willa

Hi Natalia,
Each year my pilgrimage to the saw festival brings new musical surprises, new friends and new techniques that I can try and work on. The talent and diversity in style that was demonstrated by those who participated reflected their dedication to the musical saw and many hours of practice. This, I believe, is the result of the encouragement and the promotion by you through the saw festival. It brings like minded musicians together. Thank you for all the efforts you put into planning this superb festival. I for one look forward to attending again in 2012.
Best wishes,

Hi Natalia,
I hope you have had a chance to relax after another successful festival. Sarah and I had a great time.

Nathan’s daughter, Lillian, was inspired by the art exhibit at the festival and drew this drawing at the festival:

Lillian Carver's drawing

It was an honor to be at the saw festival this year. It was great. Thanks for all your dedication to our unusual but beautiful instrument, the musical saw!
I hope you get some time to recover from this years event. You did a wonderful job with it all and Anne and I wish you the best in the future. It would be awesome to attend again in the future.
Until we meet again,
Rev. Harris | Minister of Music
(North Carolina)

Dear Natali Paruz!
Thank you so much for your festival and perormances!
I was the pianist who came up to you before the concert with my mother.
I wanted to ask if i can set up a lesson with you if you have time.
Sincerely and all the best,

3D video (you need 3D glasses to see it properly)

Thank you Jay Kusnetz for this video

Hi, Natalia. Thank you so very much for all of the time, love and energy that you put into yesterday’s festival.
Enjoy the rest of the summer and take good care!
Many hugs,

congratulations! …on a wonderful event this saturday.
it was lovely playing with you!
warm regards,
RG. (violinist)

Thank you so much for putting together this festival. It was fun and informative and I indeed thought the workshops very interesting and helpful. It was fun joining you for dinner and getting to know you a little bit. I hope to be able to come again next year and will keep working on the “Dyer” Song Blade.
Yours Truly,

The festival was awesome, everyone did a great job, I think the rate this is going you are going to need a bigger place. I enjoyed everyone, of course my most favorite is my husband Steve and Stew, they brought tears to my eyes, I was so proud of them. Thanks for all you do, you are one unique lady, and so is your husband, I know he did alot of work also to pull this off.

Musical Saw Festival Participants
Photographer: Harris Graber

Great event. I loved it. Dinner in the restaurant was fun too!

Great job and a wonderful time at the festival.
Thanks for making this gathering such a success

Great time today and our friends enjoyed it very much!

I didn’t realize the musical saw is so versatile!

Excellent as usual
(visual artist)

Chorus of the saws
Photographer: Harris Graber



Splendid, great, superb




Wonderful time
Steve & Charlene

Wonderful day!

Looking forward to the next Saw Festival! It was an awesome experience.

Musical Saw Festival 2011

You’re invited to the 9th annual NYC Musical Saw Festival:

2011 Musical Saw Festival flyer
Flyer art by Zina Saunders

Download the 2011 NYC Musical Saw Festival Flyer
Two on a page DOWNLOAD HERE
Four on a page DOWNLOAD HERE

When: Saturday, July 16th, 2011, 2pm.

Where: Hellenic Cultural Center, 27-09 Crescent Street (corner of Newtown Avenue), Astoria, NY 11102-3142
The entrance to the festival is on Newtown Avenue.

View Larger Map

Parking: Street
Public Transportation: N/Q Train to 30th Ave (walk on 31st street one blockto Newtown Avenue. Make a left onto Newtown Avenue. Walk almost 4 blocks to the Hellenic Cultural Center).

Admission: $10

NATALIA ‘SAW LADY’ PARUZ, founder & organizer of the Musical Saw Festival, will present the musical saw as an ensemble instrument in contemporary and classical music, with participation of a string quartet and a handbell choir.

* Premier of 2 new compositions for the musical saw by composers Scott Munson and Eyal Bat (piece for four musical saws and piano), commissioned for the Musical Saw Festival.

* A musical saw art exhibit
Paintings by: Zina Saunders, Heidi Younger, Aaron Porter, Miriam Paskalski, Jamie Isenstein, Kenly Dillard, Barrett Cobb, Alyssa Steele, Young Joo, Michael Watson, Kauri Sievers, Claude Bonang

*Musical saw poetry: poet Willa France will recite her poetry about the musical saw.

* Solos by saw players from around the world

* The ‘Chorus of the Saws’ (all participating musical saw players playing together, accompanied by piano).

* Musical saw workshop
The musical saw player who travels the farthest in order to attend the festival is considered the “guest of honor”.

NYC Musical Saw Festival souvenir T-shirts will be available for purchase:
* new design (M, L, XL, – $20 each, XXL – $25)
* old design (only L available – $20 each).

Orange Musical Saw Festival t-shirt

Non musical saw musicians participating in the festival:

Trinity Handbell Choir TRINITY HANDBELL CHOIR, directed by Richard Walker

Lawrence Zoernig LAWRENCE ZOERNIG (cello), has been principal ‘cellist of many New York symphony and chamber orchestras, including New York Chamber Orchestra, Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, Bachanalia and Opera Manhattan. Mr. Zoernig premièred Lars-Erik Larsson’s Concertino for ‘Cello and String Orchestra at Trinity Church with the New York Scandia Symphony, for which he is also principal ‘cellist. He has also recently performed the Cello Concerto by Johan Svendsen with the Scandia Symphony.
As a chamber musician, he performs frequently with the Goliard
Ensemble and Bachanalia. He has appeared with such noted artists as
violinists Nina Beilina, Sidney Harth and Mark Peskanov, clarinetist
Charles Neidich, guitarist David Starobin, and well-known dance
ensembles including the Paul Taylor Dance Company and the David
Parsons Dance Company. He has appeared as soloist and chamber musician at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center, Steinway Hall in New York and the Phillips Collection and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C..
His Scandia Quartet was invited to play for former US President
Jimmy Carter and his wife, Roslyn, at the Carter Center in Atlanta,
Georgia, and for the Prince and Princess of Denmark at the New York
Public Library’s Hans Christian Anderson Centenniel Celebration.
As a concert artist on the international scene, Mr. Zoernig has
been presented at the Teatro Amazones in Manaus, Brazil and the World Expo in Seville, Spain and has also performed extensively on Cunard Line cruise ships Queen Elizabeth II, Caronia, Vistafjord, Sagafjord, and Royal Viking Sun throughout the world.
Lawrence Zoernig recently returned from the National Tour of the
award winning hit Broadway show, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”.
Meet the Composer Foundation recently provided Mr. Zoernig with a
grant for his work as a composer of music for cello. Additionally, he
maintains an active teaching schedule and is presently a faculty
member of the Sylvan Academy of Music in Closter, NJ.
Lawrence Zoernig was born in 1960 in Sioux City, Iowa. He began
studying ‘cello at age eight. He attended the National Academy of Arts in Champaign, Illinois, an arts-centered boarding school. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music where he studied with Alan Harris, and a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School where he studied with Harvey Shapiro. At Juilliard he also worked extensively with Felix Galimir, Joel Krosnick, John, Cage, Albert Fuller and Jaap Schröder.
He has also coached with members of the Guarneri, Juilliard, Budapest,
Tokyo, and Hungarian Quartets.
He plays a Stradivarious model ‘cello made by Tim Hulley of Ottawa,
Ontario, completed in 2004.

Olivier Fluchaire - violinOLIVIER FLUCHAIRE (violin), won his first international competition at the age of 11. Two years later, upon receiving his Premier Prix from the Grenoble Conservatory, he entered London’s prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School. At the Menuhin School, he had the privilege of studying with Lord Menuhin himself and in 1991, performed J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins with Maestro Menuhin at the Montpellier Opera House, France. By the time he arrived in America in 1992, he had already concertized in Austria, England, France, Belgium, Lithuania and Russia.
Mr. Fluchaire gave his New York recital debut in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall in 2001 as winner of the Artists International Competition. Following engagements with the French Philharmonia Orchestra, Bachanalia Orchestra, Jupiter Symphony, Hunter Symphony, Orchestra of the Bronx and the Camerata Lisy, he has recorded for the Vox and Keuka Labels, as well as Radio France, MDR Leipzig, “The Listening Room with Robert Sherman,” WQXR-FM, National Public Radio and the BBC Television, Bronxnet Television, National Educational Television and France 3 Television.
Olivier Fluchaire has performed chamber music concerts alongside members of the Guarneri, American, and Emerson string quartets, as well as Martin Canin, Nina Beilina, Mark Peskanov and Anthony McGill and is a founding member of the New York String Quartet. An ardent champion of new music, he has premiered works by standing composers such as Toshi Ichiyanagi, Samuel Adler, Nils Vigeland, David Keberle, Mathew Harris, Gerald Chenoweth, Lethat Klein and Elias Tanenbaum.

Rachel Golub - violinRACHEL GOLUB (violin) is a violinist, vocalist, string arranger and session artist of many colors and sounds. She has been seen on stage with artists ranging from Sting, Elton John and Lady Gaga to Jay-Z, Andrea Bocelli, Florence Welch, Joss Stone and Suzanne Vega.
As an arranger and session artist, her performances can be heard on recordings with EarthRise SoundSystem (Makyen Ghrir Allah, Ajnabee), The Walkmen (Lisbon), Ryuchi Sakamoto, Breaking Benjamin (Without You), Modern English, Average Superstar, Lucy Woodward, Seth Glier (The Next Right Thing), Chris Caffery, and many others. As her alter-ego, Go-Ray, she and writing partner Duke Mushroom recently released ‘The Yoga Sessions: Go-Ray & Duke’, featuring Duke’s beats and Go-Ray’s strings and vocals, on Yoga Organix/Black Swan.
In New York, Rachel can be heard leading improvising ensembles like Ensemble Sospeso and the Club Foot Orchestra, often accompanying silent films, and performing with the Sirius Quartet or members of FLUX. She is a frequent player with Elliott Sharp’s Orchestra Carbon and Syndakit, and was featured in 2010 at the Whitney Museum’s Christian Marclay Festival.
As an orchestral player she is often onstage with Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the New Jersey Symphony, American Ballet Theatre, Opera Orchestra New York, Sympho, and other symphonic engagements ranging from Star Wars in Concert to Pierre Hughye’s antarctic orchestra for ‘A journey that wasn’t’. Other regular chamber music engagements include North/South Consonance, Lost Dog Composers’ Collective, Lincoln Center Present’s educational programs, and Musica Viva. Rachel was the violin soloist with the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre’s klezmer band for their production of ‘On Second Avenue’ and the BQE Project’s The Golem, featured live on WNYC on several occasions.
Rachel is featured on White Swan, EMI and Chesky Records, and in Universal and Warner Bros. pictures including ‘Music & Lyrics’.

Boris Deviatov - violaBORIS DEVIATOV (viola) – Boris Deviatov earned his Master’s Degree and Doctorate of Music from the Lvov State Conservatory, Ukraine. As a member of the Leontovych String Quartet, one of the leading string quartets from the former Soviet Union, Mr. Deviatov has appeared in the major concert halls of North America, South America and Europe. He also participated in numerous international festivals, including Mostly Mozart, Music Mountain, and the Newport Music Festival.
His chamber music performances include collaborations with such distinguished artists as Yuri Bashmet, Ruggiero Ricci, Ruth Laredo, Vladimir Spivakov, and Samuel Sanders. Mr. Deviatov is the winner of several competitions, both as a violist and conductor, the most notable being first prize in the All Soviet Union Viola Competition. He has concertized throughout the Soviet Union and Europe as a music director, conductor and soloist of the Ivano-Frankovsk Chamber Orchestra.
Here in the United States, he performs as a member of the Lumina String Quartet and the New York Chamber Symphony. He is a principal violist of the Bachanalia Chamber Orchestra and the String Orchestra of New York City. Mr. Deviatov has recorded for Greystone Records, Koch International Classics, The Musical Heritage Society, and Melodia (USSR).

Musical saw workshop:
Open to musical saw players only (not open to the public at large).
The workshop will take place after the concert.
Adam Wirtzfeld Musical saw player Adam Wirtzfeld of MN will teach the technique of Multiphonics – playing two notes at once on the saw, using overtones.
Doc George - photo by Pat MerinoMusical saw player Doc George of NY will teach a workshop about the hammered musical saw.
musical saw workshop instructorMusical saw player Joel Eckhaus of ME will teach a workshop about the “long bow” technique.
Gene NicholsMusical saw player Gene Nichols of ME (Associate Professor of Music, University of Maine) will teach a workshop about ‘A Lumberjack Song’ for saw and chamber orchestra.

Last year’s Musical Saw Festival:

Musical saw players wishing to participate in the festival :
If you would like to participate as a saw player (whether as a soloist, a participant in the ‘Chorus of the Saws’ or to take the workshop) or as a member of the audience, please contact us through the ‘Contact’ page and send us your name, e-mail address and whether you are a saw player or not.

Queens Council on the Arts NYSCA
The festival is made possible in part with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered by the Queens Council on the Arts.

Musical Saw Festival 2010 in the News

The 2010 Musical Saw Festival was reported on in the ‘Astoria Times’ newspaper, with photo on the FRONT PAGE:

Musical saw festival in Astoria Times

Making music with a saw and violin bow may sound like a niche interest, but the NYC Musical Saw Festival at the Hellenic Cultural Center in Astoria Saturday proved it is one with an international appeal that only seems to be growing.
Festival organizer Natalia “Saw Lady” Paruz, a 17-year saw player who lives in Astoria, said the event began with four musical saw players and now, eight years later, has grown to 30, with players coming from as close by as New York City to as far away as Japan.
This year also featured the debut of both a new song composed specifically for the musical saw, “Seen and Unseen” by Eyal Bat, and the debut of Paruz’s new band, Ameriklectic, which played compositions in which the musical saw is the featured instrument. Paruz said she is already planning to record with her new band and to hold next year’s festival at a larger venue.
“Astoria has sort of become a pilgrimage place for musical saw players,” Paruz said.
Paruz’s passion for the instrument, which has led her to multiple concert and media appearances from a solo in Carneige Hall to an appearance on MTV’s “Andy Milonakis Show” to NPR’s “Prairie Home Companion,” has made her a lightning rod for other fans of the instrument.
Before she became a musician, Paruz was a dancer but was hit by a car while walking on the street.
“That put an end to my dance career,” Paruz said, “and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.”
When she took a trip to Europe with her parents a short time after being hit, she saw a man playing a saw, which she said was the first time she had felt excited about something since the accident. When she started playing, it began as a hobby, but her neighbors heard her playing and asked her to play for a charity function.
Word of mouth spread, first to other venues that wanted Paruz to play for them, which led to Paruz playing the musical saw and other musical instruments such as handbells professionally, then to other musical saw players. Eight years ago, a musical saw player from California contacted Paruz and wanted to come to New York to meet Paruz. She said yes, but only if the other, local musical saw players Paruz knew could meet the Californian as well.
This was the birth of the first musical saw festival. In subsequent years, more and more musical saw players wanted to meet with Paruz, and what began as meet-ups turned into an annual event that now takes all year to plan. The small theater was packed at the Hellenic center at 27-09 Crescent St.
“They just unanimously decided I should be the one to put on the festival,” she said.
Paruz said the musical saw is played by placing the handle between the legs for stability, then using the left hand to bend the blade from the tip as the right hand runs a violin bow along the non-serrated edge. The more the saw is bent, the higher the notes. Any saw can be played this way, although most saws made for music have no teeth or have teeth that are decorative and not sharpened.
“I’ve been playing for 17 years and I’ve never hurt myself,” Paruz said.
Lisa Mayer, a former Hillcrest resident who played at the festival with her husband and Kew Gardens native Sruli Dresdner, said the saw’s use as a carpenter tool and a musical instrument is one of its appeals.
“It’s utilitarian and artistic,” she said.
WooYoung Park, who came from Osaka, Japan, to play at the festival, said the sound of the musical saw is also a prime appeal.
“The sound is beautiful and unique,” she said. “It’s a free sound.”
Paruz said that for her the music has become a way for her to meet people of all ages, religions and backgrounds, in addition to sounding beautiful.
“It’s angelic and otherworldly and spiritual,” Paruz said. “It has a magic to it.”

musical saw festival in Queens Gazette

Musical Saw Festival Opens With Mayoral Proclamation

All participating 26 musical saw players playing together. Photo Harris Graber
All participating 26 musical saw players playing together.
Photo Harris Graber

The eighth annual New York City Musical Saw Festival welcomed 26 musical saw players from around the globe to the Hellenic Cultural Center in Astoria on August 7. A proclamation from Mayor Michael Bloomberg was read to open the event.

Ameriklectic, a local 10-piece band, featured the musical saw (played by festival founder Natalia “Saw Lady” Paruz) as the lead instrument in jazz compositions by Scott Munson. Two musical saw trios were presented at the festival, “Moscow Nights”, played by three musical saw players from Osaka, Japan. A ragtime piece by composer Eyal Bat, commissioned by the festival, with musical saw players Chelsea Winter, Sharif Vakili and Paruz, with piano accompaniment by Judy Dimino, had its world premier.

Musical saw player Paul Gherson parodied the lyrics to George Gershwin’s “Summertime”.

“Summer time, and the living is easy,

Bows are swinging, and vibrations are high…

Oh, but sawyers are few, and Natalia’s still looking,

The Carpenter’s Union she invited to try!”

Hip Hop poet Mason Granger presented a poem about the musical saw and musical saw player Doc George Hiller played his amplified musical saw attached to guitar pedals that alter the sound in various ways, making it sound like a Jimmy Hendrix guitar. A workshop where advanced musical saw players dispensed information to beginners followed the concert. At the workshop, two aspiring musical saw players drew their very first note from a saw.

Mark Grant, who has composed for the musical saw, said: “As a composer I learned a little more about the musical saw just by listening at the festival, especially to the [Eyal Bat] trio at the beginning of the program but also to other parts of the program. I was also pleased to get acquainted with Scott Munson’s work as a composer and arranger–his stuff is first class all the way, a ‘good listen’ and very well put together for the band, including the musical saw as a lead.”

“I’ve been wanting to go to the festival for five years, since I started playing the musical saw, and this is the first time I was able to be in New York City for the summer,” said one of the musical saw players.

“I liked meeting like-minded musicians from across the world and the U.S., and I learned a lot from the workshop, where we could talk freely about problems with our own playing, saws, bows, etc.,” said another. Heidi Younger, one of the painters exhibiting works at the festival, said, “I loved the festival! It was a very happy event. I am sorry I haven’t attended in previous years.”

Jeffrey Dayton, an audience member from Long Island, said, “To finally get to see what I have only read about is an experience I will never forget. I will cherish the memory for a lifetime. Every one of the performers was made to feel like they were the star of the show. No talent was too small.”

“Kudos to Queens Council on the Arts for support of the 8th annual NYC Musical Saw Festival: SawLady + gang is amazing,” Clyde Fitch, who lives near the Hellenic Cultural Center, twittered after the festival.

Three people residing in the vicinity of the Hellenic Cultural Center, where the festival took place, said they were inspired to dig into their toolboxes and try to fiddle with a saw when they returned home from the festival.

Audience members are invited to leave comments about the festival at

For more information about the annual New York City Musical Saw Festival, held in Astoria every summer, and to see videos from the event, visit

musical saw festival article

NYC Musical Saw Festival
8th Annual Musical Saw Festival Held At The Hellenic Cultural Center In Astoria

Musical saw trio
Musical saw trio. Photographer: Pat Merino

The 8th annual Musical Saw Festival was held at the Hellenic Cultural Center in Astoria. This fine art dates back to 17th century when woodcutting musicians around the world simultaneously began developing the saw as a musical instrument. In time a number of companies started manufacturing saws to cater to this part of the market.
The art form emerged in places as far away as Sweden, France and Japan; but we understand that America has emerged as the center of the art form. The Musical Saw Festival held in Astoria is the world’s largest and the following report captures some of its flavor.

Twenty-six musical saw players graced the stage of the Hellenic Cultural Center in Astoria, home to NYC’s 8th Annual Musical Saw Festival. Some played solo acapellas, while others were accompanied by piano, guitar, vocals and even by a four-string washbasin. ‘Amerikletic’ is a local ten piece band which includes the festival’s founder, Natalia ‘Saw Lady’ Paruz. ‘Ameriklectic’ played a few Scott Munson jazz compositions which were a huge hit.
Three musical saw players traveled from Osaka, Japan to participate in the festival. Another group, including saw players Chelsea Winter, Sharif Vikili and Natalia Paruz played a ragtime jazz piece composed by Eyal Bat which was commissioned by the festival. Judy Dimino accompanied them on the piano.

Musical saw players
All participating musical saw players. Photographer: Pat Merino

Saw musicians are not without a sense of humor. Paul Gherson provided alternative lyrics to Gershwin’s Summertime which brought chuckles from the audience. Hip Hop poet Mason Granger recited a poem he’d written about the musical saw. And Doc George Hiller played Jimmy Hendrix style tunes on his amplified saw which he has creatively attached to guitar pedals to create new sounds.

One member of the audience, Jeffrey Dayton of Long Island, remarked, “To finally see what I have only read about is an experience I will never forget. I will cherish this memory for a lifetime”. Segments from the program were broadcast by CBS and Reuters. The program received some funding from the Queens Council Of The Arts.