Biography

The Sinta Quartet is a chamber ensemble of four saxophones dedicated to crafting the highest quality of chamber music performance, serving as advocates and ambassadors for the latest composers and repertoire from diverse backgrounds, and delivering this performance in a new and engaging fashion on the chamber music stage. By performing entirely from memory and creating a dialogue with the audience throughout the performance, DSQ strengthen an already palpable connection with its audiences. Having performed across the globe to audiences experiencing a classical saxophone quartet for the first time, DSQ has earned praise from audiences and critics alike for its virtuosic performances, compelling recordings and distinctive repertoire. Hailed as “…a tight-knit ensemble exploding with power and virtuosity and an un-concealable ambition to connect with its newly found listeners” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), "immensely entertaining...they really are superb musicians," (Audiophile Audition), and for their "Astonishing virtuosity, subtly beautiful phrasing and exquisite ensemble," (Palm Beach Daily News), the group is named for its mentor, legendary University of Michigan Saxophone Professor Donald Sinta.

 

DSQ formed, uniquely, by audition at UM during 2010 for the Michigan Symphony Band's tour to China where they were featured in William Bolcom's Concerto Grosso. Remaining together as an ensemble following this tour, early in their career the foursome were among the most successful chamber ensembles in the country on the competition circuit, garnering 1st Prize at the Concert Artists Guild Competition, Gold Medal at the 2018 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, First Prize at the 2017 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, the Alice Coleman Grand Prize at the 2013 Coleman Chamber Music Competition and First Prize in the 2012 North American Saxophone Alliance Quartet Competition.

 

The Donald Sinta Quartet’s repertoire is diverse, ranging from commissions by today’s emerging composers to standards from the saxophone quartet literature to transcriptions by master composers such as Beethoven, Dvorak, Schubert and Shostakovich. In 2019 they released their debut recording, Collider, on CAG Records featuring new works for saxophone quartet. Their 2nd recording is forthcoming in February 2020 on the Bright Shiny Things label. Their radio appearances include New York’s WQXR, and Interlochen Public Radio, and frequent features on American Public Media’s Performance Today.

Among the ensemble’s extensive educational outreach activities, they recently enjoyed extended residencies for Joplin Pro Musica (MO) and Anchorage Concert Association, both culminating with performances as part of their season series. Equally committed to education and community engagement, the quartet has presented clinics and performances at numerous colleges and universities including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Eastman School of Music, the University of Delaware, the University of Massachussetts at Amherst, SUNY-Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, and many others, as well as a residency at Grand Valley State University. DSQ has also presented workshops and performances at dozens of public schools across the US.

As advocates of new music, the quartet runs the National Saxophone Quartet Composition Competition, which selects two new quartet works from up-and-coming composers each year. Founded and still based in Michigan, DSQ’s members are all Selmer-Paris Artists and perform exclusively on Selmer saxophones.

Soprano Saxophonist Dan Graser, originally a New Yorker, now resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he is Professor of Saxophone and Assistant Department Chair at Grand Valley State University. He teaches a full studio of undergraduate music majors of education, performance, and arts management backgrounds. When he isn't practicing notes that only dogs can hear (and love!) he can be found reading incessantly, pretending that his coffee habits are entirely healthy, heading to the gym to work off the caffeine buzz, and seeking out the next great string quartet to improve by arranging for sax quartet!

Alto Saxophonist Zach Stern enjoys a career as a saxophone soloist, chamber musician, and educator. A native of Houston, Texas, Zach currently resides in Cape Girardeau, Missouri where he serves on the faculty at Southeast Missouri State University and is in demand in the region as a saxophone clinician and adjudicator. During the summer he teaches at the South Shore Conservatory's Summer Music Festival in Hingham, MA. Aside from his musical activities, Zach thoroughly enjoys both eating and cooking (albeit very amateurishly), and spending time with his lovely wife and objectively adorable puppy. 

Tenor Saxophonist Joe Girard is a concert saxophonist who enjoys a rising career as a soloist, chamber musician, and educator. Born and raised in Canton, Michigan (in the looming shadow of the finest of universities) Joe is currently a resident of Columbus, Georgia where he serves as Assistant Professor of Saxophone for the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Baritone Saxophonist Danny Hawthorne-Foss began his musical career at the age of 5, playing Bluegrass, American Old Time, and Irish folk music on the mandolin. He now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan where he teaches a private studio of all ages, coaches young saxophone quartets, and runs sectionals at local middle and high schools. When he's home from teaching and performing, Danny spends his free time learning riffs on electric guitar, teaching his pet cockatiel to whistle movie soundtracks, and enjoying far too many of the pastries his girlfriend bakes. 

Photo Credit: Jason Paige