Mt. Vernon Register-News

August 17, 2013

Dr. Sax is now on call



Dr. Sax will now have more time to play music.

As of July 31, Dr. Solomon Apostol is now a retired internist (specialist in internal medicine). Originally from the Phillipines, he has been in the United States since 1975, including the last 24 years in Mt. Vernon.

Many of you may recall that I wrote about him in this space a couple of years ago and Register-News writer Rick Hayes wrote extensively about him in 1997.

Dr. Sax said that becoming a doctor was not part of his original plan.

"It was not my choice," said Apostol. "My father made that choice for me. He told me to pursue medicine."

"My ambition when I was young was to be a professional musician," he said. "My father helped me prepare for that. My mother taught me how to sing when I was very young, and I was then a vocal solo contestant in grade school up through fifth grade. When I was in sixth grade, my father told me to switch to instrumental music, so he bought me my first clarinet and sent me to my uncle who was a bandleader in my hometown. I underwent eight intensive months of clarinet lessons, seven days a week, two hours a day. After eight months, my uncle said that I was ready to play with the band, and I went on tours with them in neighboring towns and cities. I played professionally throughout high school."

But then, his life took an abrupt change when his father made a choice for him.

"When I graduated from high school in 1962, another uncle, who was also a bandleader, was under contract to play in Hong Kong. He wanted me to be one of his sidemen," recalled Apostol. "When my father heard that, he said 'you're not going anywhere, I'm sending you to pre-med. You have no choice, I have decided that for you.'"

Apostol then went to medical school, but kept music as a part of his life.

"I put the music on hold for five years, Apostol said. "But even when I was doing my residency training (in Brooklyn N.Y. and in Chicago), I had my clarinet with me."

So how did he decide to start playing the saxophone?

"It was an automatic thing, because the saxophone is also a woodwind instrument," said Apostol. "My uncle told me after the eight months of clarinet lessons that I would automatically know how to play the sax because the finger positions are very similar. I found that it was an easy transition."

But, how did he end up in the King City for all of these years?

"I practiced medicine in Chicago from 1982 until 1988," said Apostol. "Then, by October of 1988, I had bought an existing practice and was here in Mt. Vernon."

Dr. Sax said that he is welcoming his retirement. I don't think he'll have any trouble filling the hours.

"I'm going to play music for the rest of my life," Apostol said. "Barring any complications, I will come full circle back to my music again. That has always been my passion."

Next week, I'll have part two of my interview with Dr. Sax, which will include his love of karaoke singing. Who knows, you may even learn some things that you didn't know. I know that I did.

Remember Ash Bash, starting at 4 p.m. today.

Don't forget to check out:

Don't drink and drive or text and drive.

The Illinois State Police are counting on it.