The Sinta Quartet - Biography
“Virtuosic to the core” (Textura) and hailed as “a tight-knit ensemble exploding with power and virtuosity” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), the Sinta Quartet is on a mission to bring the versatility, homogeneity, and excitement of the saxophone to audiences everywhere. Strengthening an already palpable connection with its audience by performing entirely from memory, the quartet provides a fresh take on chamber music that is at once beautiful, virtuosic, and a completely interactive experience.
The Sinta Quartet injects music and fun into the air for unsuspecting passersby by appearing in nontraditional venues such as grocery stores, bars, and other public places, but they have also performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Hall, and the Beijing Center for the Performing Arts. Since forming in 2010 as soloists for a tour of China with the University of Michigan Symphony Band, the quartet has concertized in 9 countries, 32 states, and 2 Canadian provinces, giving diverse audiences a chance to experience a classical saxophone quartet for the first time. The Sinta Quartet made history in 2013 as the first saxophone ensemble to win the Victor Elmaleh First Prize from the Concert Artists Guild Competition, and continued to achieve success on the competition circuit, winning the 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 1st Prize at the 2012 North American Saxophone Alliance Competition.
The quartet’s programming takes the audience on an adventure through time, geography, and genre, often mixing classics from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries with commissions by today’s composers and rollicking in-house arrangements from various folk traditions. In addition to their live performances, the quartet recently released two albums featuring predominantly recent commissions and winning pieces from Sinta Quartet’s annual National Composition Competition. The first, Collider, hailed as, "An exciting ride! The ensemble, intonation, and technique in this recording are beyond question" (The Saxophonist Magazine), was released in 2019, and the second, Ex Machina, which was praised as “tightly performed and flawlessly recorded in generous, in-your-face sound” (Musical America), was released in 2020.
All four members of SQ are also passionate and dedicated teachers and relish the opportunity to play for and work with students of all ages. They carefully craft and curate programs designed for all levels of public school students and every type of community venue.
Black for Saxophone Performance
Meet the Musicians!
Dan Graser (Left)
Soprano Saxophonist Dan Graser, originally a New Yorker, now resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he is Professor of Saxophone and Associate Department Chair for Music, Theatre, and Dance at Grand Valley State University. His primary teachers are saxophone virtuosi Timothy McAllister and Donald Sinta at the Crane School of Music – SUNY Potsdam and the University of Michigan. He teaches a full studio of undergraduate music majors of education, performance, and arts industry backgrounds. He recently completed a trilogy of saxophone methods, the Chops series, currently in use throughout the world and available from Conway Publications. When he isn’t practicing notes that only dogs can hear (and love!) he can be found reading incessantly, pretending his coffee habits are entirely healthy, heading to the gym to work off the caffeine buzz, finishing his next series of saxophone methods The Saxophone Manual, and seeking out the next great string quartet to improve upon with a saxophonic arrangement!
Zach Stern (Left-Center)
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 Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and 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, and spending time with his lovely wife and objectively adorable puppy.
Danny Hawthorne-Foss (Right-Center)
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 for 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 and teaching his pet cockatiel to whistle movie soundtracks.
Joe Girard (Right)
Michigan native, Tenor Saxophonist Joe Girard, currently resides in Columbus, Georgia where he serves as Assistant Professor of Saxophone at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University and maintains a full saxophone studio of undergraduate and graduate (masters and artist diploma) students. He has appeared as a soloist throughout the United States, most notably with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra on Glazunov’s Concerto and Ibert’s Concertino da Camera during the 2018-2019 season. As an educator, Dr. Girard has presented masterclasses and clinics across the United States, including at the Brevard Music Center, Eastman School of Music, University of Michigan, and the Frost School of Music among others. He currently serves as co-director and teaches saxophone at the Schwob Summer Music Festival, an immersive week-long music camp at Columbus State University for high school students. When he’s not busy performing and teaching, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his dog, Maizey (Go Blue!), and refining his grilling and culinary skills with his wife, Maureen.