Department of Music

The Ryoanji Duo

Frank Bongiorno, saxophone and
Robert Nathanson, classical guitar

Ryoanji DuoAlthough each performer has established solo careers, Frank Bongiorno and Robert Nathanson have performed as a duo since their debut performance at the Tenth World Saxophone Congress in Pesaro, Italy in 1992. Frequently invited to perform at saxophone, guitar, and composer conferences, the duo has also toured throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, with performances in Berlin, Valencia (Spain), Montreal, San Francisco, and Chicago.

As champions of new music, the Ryoanji Duo has commissioned award-winning composers such as David Kechley, Marilyn Shrude, Daniel Worley, Ernesto García de León, and others to write for this unique chamber group. In addition, in their search to further expand the repertoire for the duo, they have transcribed and published select well-known "classics" by Mozart, Handel, Villa-Lobos, Ravel, Fauré and other significant composers of the past.

They have collaborated on two recordings and have recently released a new CD, entitled Images, of saxophone and guitar music written for them on the Liscio Recordings label ( Both are currently on the faculty in the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where they teach saxophone and classical guitar respectively, among other courses.

"Even in the perkier passages, there was a good balance between the instruments…Nathanson had beautiful clarity within a wide range of dynamics. Bongiorno was especially good at maintaining a sweet, controlled tone in the higher register and displayed facile fingering."

- Roy C. Dicks
The Raleigh News & Observer