Donald Sinta Quartet




New Music

Donald Sinta Quartet


  • Dan Graser, soprano saxophone
  • Zach Stern, alto saxophone
  • Joe Girard, tenor saxophone
  • Danny Hawthorne-Foss, baritone saxophone

Event Details


Since forming in November of 2010, The Donald Sinta Quartet (DSQ) has quickly achieved international renown for their recitals, concerto performances, completely memorized presentation, and championing of the very latest repertoire from emerging young composers. Hailing from across the country, DSQ is named for legendary University of Michigan Saxophone Professor Donald Sinta, the group's mentor. The group just won first place in the 2018 Fishcoff Chamber Music Competition.

This performance is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works.

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DSQ have distinguished themselves on the competition circuit, making history by being the first saxophone quartet ever to win the Elmaleh 1st Prize in the Concert Artists Guild International Competition in NYC, having been chosen by a unanimous vote of the jury. The group also received the Alice Coleman Grand Prize at the 2013 Coleman International Competition in Los Angeles, and 1st Prize at the North American Alliance Saxophone Quartet Competition in Arizona. Upcoming performances include recitals at Market Square Concerts, Chamber Music Society of Detroit, University of Delaware, Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, St. Bonaventure University, a concerto performance in Strasbourg, France with the Paris Garde Républicaine Band as well as multiple performances with the Reno Philharmonic in 2016.

DSQ were the featured soloists with the University of Michigan Symphony Band during the historic 2011 tour through Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenyang, Xian, Hangzhou, and Los Angeles. The group performed in some of the most prestigious concert halls in the world including the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Tour performances also featured DSQ at the Shanghai Conservatory, Hanban Headquarters, as well as a performance for the students of the Youth Orchestras of Los Angeles. Their concerto performances featured the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize winning composer William Bolcom’s Concerto Grosso for Saxophone Quartet and Band. In addition to their China tour performances, DSQ have also performed this work with the Dallas Wind Symphony in Texas. They can be heard performing this work on the Michigan Symphony Band’s recording Artifacts. Recent reviews of the recording praised the quartet as, “Immensely entertaining..Really superb musicians! (Audiophile Audition),” and, “The highlight of the album…(American Record Guide)

Following their performances in China, DSQ maintained a national and international touring schedule with recitals at the 16th World Saxophone Congress in St. Andrews, Scotland; Thessaloniki, Greece for the 2012 International Society for Music Education Conference; a 2013 tour through Paris with recital/clinics at the Paris Conservatory, Versailles Conservatory, and Selmer Paris showroom; and performances in Geneva and Montreux, Switzerland at CERN and the Montreux International Jazz Festival. Other recent recital performances include Carnegie Hall, the Greene Space, and Merkin Hall in NYC, Corpus Christi Chamber Music Society, Purdue Convocations, Chamber Music North, Princeton Summer Concerts, Rockport Chamber Music, the Chautauqua Institution, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire, and the Detroit Institute of the Arts. DSQ have also made radio appearances on New York’s WQXR and Interlochen Public Radio, and have been featured frequently on American Public Media’s Performance Today.

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, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, SUNY-Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, as well as a residency at Grand Valley State University. DSQ have also presented workshops and performances at Saline High School (MI), public schools and universities in Dallas as part of a residency with the Dallas Wind Symphony (TX), and two tours through the Wappingers Central School District (NY).

DSQ’s repertoire spans centuries and encompasses the great string quartet repertoire of Dvorak, Schubert, and Shostakovich, as well as numerous saxophone standards and several new commissions and premieres by today’s emerging young composers. To this end, DSQ has initiated an annual National Saxophone Quartet Composition Competition for new music from student composers. DSQ are managed by Concert Artists Guild ( and are Selmer-Paris Artists, performing on Selmer Paris Saxophones exclusively. See less.

Dan Graser

Saxophonist Daniel Graser is emerging as one of the most innovative and influential performers and pedagogues of his generation. Currently Assistant Professor of Saxophone at Grand Valley State University, Dan was a recipient of the Doctorate of Musical Arts and Masters in Music from the University of Michigan where he served as Teaching Assistant to legendary pedagogue Donald Sinta. Dan previously earned Bachelors degrees summa cum laude in music theory/history and saxophone performance as well as the Honors in Performance while a student of Dr. Timothy McAllister at the Crane School of Music. Read more.

Greatly in demand as an educator, Dan has presented masterclasses, clinics and recitals throughout the world including the Paris Conservatory, Versailles Conservatory, Shanghai Conservatory, Beijing Central Conservatory, China Conservatory, the Kennedy Center, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, University of North Carolina Greensboro, West Virginia University, Texas A&M Commerce, and many others. Dan has previously served on the faculties of Oakland University, Mpulse Saxophone Institute, Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts, and the Expressions Music Academy.

As an orchestral performer, Dan has been featured with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions under Leonard Slatkin. Dan also performed as saxophonist with the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas and John Adams. With NWS, Dan gave premieres and performances of works by John Adams (performed with the composer), Julia Wolfe, Giacinto Scelsi, and Alex Orfaly. A recent review of a world premiere by Orfaly with New World Symphony:​ "a jazzy interlude spotlights a virtuosic, big band saxophone solo, played with dazzling agility and panache by Daniel Graser" (South Florida Classical Review). Additional credits include the Hot Springs Festival Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Ann Arbor Symphony, University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra, Oakland Symphony, Orchestra of Northern New York, and solo performances with the Oakland Wind Symphony and South Oakland Concert Band. As an undergraduate, Dan was invited to perform as principal saxophone with the National Wind Ensemble in Carnegie Hall under the baton of H. Robert Reynolds.

As a member of the Donald Sinta Quartet, Dan has received numerous accolades including the 1st Prize of the Concert Artists Guild Competition, Grand Prize of the Coleman Chamber Music Competition, and 1st Prize of the North American Saxophone Alliance Quartet Competition. Dan also received 1st Place in the Crane Concerto Competition and was a three-time 1st Place winner of the Crane Chamber Music Competition.

At UM Dan performed as saxophonist with the University Symphony Orchestra, University Philharmonia Orchestra, and Contemporary Directions Ensemble and as principal saxophonist with the legendary Michigan Symphony Band. He was featured numerous times as soloist with that ensemble in the works of Colgrass, Smith, and Bolcom, including featured concerto performances with DSQ during the historic 2011 tour to China and Los Angeles. As aforementioned, Dan was Teaching Assistant to Don Sinta and was responsible for teaching undergrad music education classes, coaching quartets, and initiating and teaching a class for extended techniques to saxophone majors. Dan was selected by the University of Michigan to perform as the featured saxophonist in recital at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. as part of the Millennium Stage series.

Dan maintains a private studio in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor and his students have won numerous concerto competitions and gained admission to prestigious saxophone studios around the country in performance, jazz studies, and education degree programs. Dan was recently added to the Selmer Paris Artist Roster and performs on Selmer saxophones and mouthpieces exclusively. See less.

Zach Stern

Zach Stern enjoys a career as a saxophone soloist, chamber musician, and educator. His performing and teaching schedule has taken him all over the world, including such venues as Carnegie Hall, Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. As a soloist, he won the 2013 University of Michigan Concerto Competition, as well as 2nd Prize in the Winds Division of the 2010 Young Texas Artists Music Competition. He has performed as a featured soloist with the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra, the South Oakland Concert Band (MI), the Saline High School Wind Ensemble (MI), and the Kingwood Park High School Symphonic Band (TX). Read more.

An active chamber musician, Zach has accrued numerous accolades with various chamber groups. As the alto saxophonist of the Donald Sinta Quartet, he won the First Prize in the 2013 Concert Artists Guild Competition, the Alice Coleman Grand Prize in the 2013 Coleman Chamber Music Competition, and the First Prize in the 2012 North American Saxophone Alliance Quartet Competition. The group performed William Bolcom’s Concerto Grosso for Saxophone Quartet and Band as soloists with the Paris Republican Guard Wind Orchestra at the 2015 World Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg, the Dallas Wind Symphony, and the UM Symphony Band during its 2011 China Tour. Other international engagements include recitals in Geneva and Montreux, Switzerland; Osaka, Japan; Paris and Versailles, France; St. Andrews, Scotland; and Thessalonika, Greece. DSQ has performed at some of the country’s most prestigious summer music festivals, such as Bravo! Vail (CO), Music from Angel Fire in Angel Fire (NM), the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival (MI), and the Lake George Music Festival (NY). Through the group’s National Composition Competition and other commissions, DSQ has been a strong proponent of encouraging and presenting new music from today’s rising star composers.

In addition to his activities with DSQ, Zach was invited to represent the University of Michigan at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as part of the Millennium Stage series with the Moanin’ Frogs Saxophone Sextet in 2013. As an undergraduate student at UM, he was the alto saxophonist with the Yersinia Saxophone Quartet, which won the Silver Medal at the 2009 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and the Third Prize at the 2010 North American Saxophone Alliance Quartet Competition. YSQ was also featured as a soloist with the University of Michigan Concert Band under the direction of Dr. Rodney Dorsey, performing Scott McAllister's X2.

Zach maintains a large private saxophone studio of his own in the Ann Arbor and Metro-Detroit areas, having previously held positions as the UM Graduate Student Instructor for the Saxophone Studio and as the Saxophone Instructor at the Expressions Music Academy in Novi, MI. He has given master classes at Columbus State University, Wright State University, the University of Miami Frost School of Music, the University of Delaware, Grand Valley State University, Brevard Music Center, and other universities, high schools, and middle schools. Zach also gives saxophone and clarinet clinics to public schools and universities throughout the state of Michigan as a D’Addario Reserve Method Program Artist.

Zach received both his Master of Music in Saxophone Performance and his Bachelor of Music in Saxophone Performance with Teacher Certification from the University of Michigan, where he served as the Teaching Assistant to Professor Donald Sinta, and was the recipient of the Laurence Teal Scholarship Award. Prior to his studies at UM, Zach studied with Dr. Scott Plugge. See less.

Joe Girard

Dr. Joseph Girard has been appointed Visiting Lecturer in Music—Saxophone, for the 2015-2016 academic year at the Schwob School of Music. Joe enjoys a rising career as a soloist, chamber musician, and educator. His performances have taken him from Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Walt Disney Hall, Meyerson Symphony Center, Krannert Center, and Kravis Center all the way to St. Andrews, Paris, Versailles, Strasbourg, Montreux, Geneva, Thessaloniki, Beijing, Shanghai, and Osaka. Additionally, he has appeared at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Music From Angel Fire, and the Lake George Music Festival. Read more.

As an active chamber musician, and tenor saxophonist of the Donald Sinta Quartet (DSQ), he received First Prize at the 2013 Concert Artists Guild (CAG) Victor Elmaleh Competition in New York City. As a result, DSQ presented their Carnegie Hall debut at Weill Recital Hall in November 2014 and is now professionally managed by CAG. DSQ also received the Alice Coleman Grand Prize at the 2013 Coleman Chamber Music Competition and First Place at the North American Saxophone Alliance Quartet Competition in 2012. DSQ can be heard on the premiere recording of William Bolcom’s Concerto Grosso for Saxophone Quartet and Band with the University of Michigan Symphony Band and conductor Michael Haithcock on the 2011 recording Artifacts. The group has been featured on WQXR’s Young Artists Showcase with Bob Sherman, in addition to their live performances being broadcast regularly on American Public Media’s Performance Today. DSQ is dedicated to community engagement and education and has presented clinics in Connecticut, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Texas, and for the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles.


Joe has been active in commissioning new music with the DSQ as well as with Houston Symphony violist, Jarita Ng. He has worked with David Biedenbender, William Bolcom, Paul Dooley, Daniel Knaggs, Kristen Kuster, and Roger Zare. In addition to expanding concert saxophone repertoire Joe is passionate about masterpieces written for winds and strings, regularly performing transcriptions by Bach, Barber, Bruch, Dvořák, Grieg, and Shostakovich.

Dr. Girard received his Doctorate from Michigan State University where he served as a teaching assistant to Joseph Lulloff and was awarded a Dissertation Completion Fellowship. He completed his Master and Bachelor of Music at the University of Michigan under the tutelage of Donald Sinta, serving as teaching assistant during his Master’s studies. Additionally, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and applies many of the concepts from the sciences to his teaching and performing. Joe is a Selmer Performing Artist and performs exclusively on Selmer Paris Saxophones. See less.

Danny Hawthorne-Foss

Prior to moving to Ann Arbor, Danny Hawthorne-Foss was active in the San Francisco music scene, playing at local jazz clubs, hotels, restaurants, street fairs, and public buildings as a member of jazz, salsa, and folk bands as well as classical chamber groups. In 2011 Danny earned his Bachelor's degree in saxophone performance from the University of Michigan. During his time in Ann Arbor, he has played with the University of Michigan Symphony Band, the University of Michigan Jazz Ensemble, and the Ann Arbor Symphony. A proponent of new music, Danny has premiered pieces at the 2009 and 2010 Midwest Composers Symposium at the Universities of Michigan and Cincinnati respectively. In addition to the UM Symphony Band Album "Artifacts", Danny can be heard as a soloist on the album "Music in Pluralism" by New York composer William Zuckerman. Read more.

Danny has taught at summer marching band camps in Michigan, and regularly runs sectionals at local elementary, middle and high schools in Ann Arbor and surrounding areas. He has also guest taught for the students of the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. He maintains a private studio in San Francisco, and now teaches private lessons at the Arts in Motion Dance and Music Studio in Ann Arbor. He received his Bachelor of Music and Master's degree in saxophone performance from the University of Michigan where he studied with Donald Sinta. See less.