Prize-winning saxophone quartet performs classical to modern

Donald Sinta Quartet

Four virtuoso wind musicians plus a repertoire spanning centuries equals the first Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts event of the 2019-20 season.

The Donald Sinta Quartet will be onstage in Memorial Hall at Bethel College Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

Single tickets range from $27 to $18 (Bethel and Hesston students get in free) and there’s still time to get season tickets ($90 to $70, for five performances).

The Donald Sinta Quartet (DSQ), a first prize winner in the Concert Artists Guild Competition and 2018 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition gold medalist, has earned praise from audiences and critics alike for virtuosic performances, compelling recordings and distinctive repertoire.

The quartet is named for its mentor, legendary University of Michigan saxophone professor Donald Sinta. The group performs entirely from memory, strengthening an already obvious connection with audiences.

Additional competition successes are 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.

DSQ’s repertoire ranges from commissions by today’s emerging composers to standards from the saxophone quartet literature to transcriptions by master composers such as Dvorak, Schubert and Shostakovich.

The ensemble has just released their debut recording, Collider, on CAG Records, featuring new works for saxophone quartet.

In 2011, the group gave the world premiere of William Bolcom’s own transcription of his Concerto Grosso with Concert Band, joining the University of Michigan Symphony Band for performances at Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, Beijing’s National Center for the Performing Arts and the Shanghai Conservatory, and garnering praise for the quartet’s subsequent concerto recording.

DSQ has made radio appearances on New York’s WQXR and Interlochen Public Radio, and is featured frequently on American Public Media’s Performance Today.

Recent career highlights include DSQ’s Carnegie Hall recital debut; Purdue University Convocations; Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, West Palm Beach, Fla.; Chautauqua (New York) Institution; Bravo! Vail Music Festival; Rockport (Mass.) Chamber Music Festival; Music from Angel Fire (New Mexico); and, in Michigan, the Great Lakes Music Festival and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Among the ensemble’s extensive educational outreach activities, they recently enjoyed extended residencies for Joplin (Mo.) Pro Musica and Anchorage Concert Association, both culminating with performances as part of their season series.

Featured international appearances include Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Strasbourg, France (for the 17th World Saxophone Congress); St. Andrews, Scotland (as part of the 16th World Saxophone Congress); Paris; Geneva; Montreux; Thessaloniki, Greece; and Japan (as one of a select group of ensembles chosen for the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition).

Equally committed to education and community engagement, DSQ has presented clinics and performances at numerous colleges and universities, as well as workshops and performances at dozens of public schools across the United States.

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. DSQ has commissioned and premiered works by David Biedenbender, Kyle Blaha, Matthew Browne, Patrick Harlin, Kristin Kuster, Marc Mellits, Roger Zare and many others.

Founded and still based in Michigan, DSQ’s members are all Selmer-Paris Artists and perform exclusively on Selmer saxophones.

Current DSQ personnel are Dan Graser, soprano saxophone; Zach Stern, alto; Joe Girard, tenor; and Danny Hawthorne-Foss, baritone.

Single tickets for the Donald Sinta Quartet are for sale at Bethel College’s Thresher Shop, open weekdays 8 a.m.-5 p.m., or the Hesston College bookstore, open weekdays 9 a.m.-4 p.m., where you can also buy season tickets. Both single and season tickets are available through the HBPA website.

Additional events in the 2019-20 season are the Lorelei Ensemble, Nov. 7 at Hesston Mennonite Church; The Swingles: Winter Tales, Dec. 3 at Hesston Mennonite Church; The Queen’s Cartoonists, Feb. 7 in Krehbiel Auditorium on the Bethel campus; and Goitse, March 9 at Hesston Mennonite Church.

The series started in 1982 as Hesston Performing Arts, then expanded in 1998 when Hesston College joined forces with Bethel College for Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts, to present five performances by world-renowned or regionally acclaimed artists each school year.

HBPA is funded in part by the cities of Hesston and North Newton, Excel Industries and Hustler Turf Equipment (Hesston), the North Newton Community Foundation, the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Area businesses and patrons provide additional funding for the HBPA series.