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Sax in the City

$32 – $35


April 18, 2020
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
$32 – $35
Event Categories:
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Firelands Symphony Orchestra


Sandusky State Theatre
107 Columbus Ave.
Sandusky, OH 44870 United States
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(877) 626-1950


Sax in the City
Sandusky State Theatre

The Donald Sinta Quartet has been hailed as “a tight-knit ensemble exploding with power, virtuosity, and the unconcealable ambition to connect with its newly found listeners” (Boston Musical Intelligencer). The Quartet will be performing University of Michigan faculty member William Bolcom’s Concerto Grosso for Saxophone Quartet. Bolcom is an American composer of chamber, operatic, vocal, choral, cabaret, ragtime, and symphonic music, and is a National Medal of Arts, Pulitzer Prize, and Grammy Award-winner.

We are extremely proud to present “Blue Cathedral”, an orchestral composition by another American composer, BGSU School of Music graduate and honorary doctorate recipient, Jennifer Higdon.

Carl Topilow, Music Director and Conductor of FSO
Firelands Symphony Orchestra, Full Orchestra
The Donald Sinta Quartet, Guest Artists

Featured Composers (Both living 21st century artists)
William Bolcom
Jennifer Higdon


Sax in the City is made possible by the generous support of our sponsors.

Randolph J. and Estelle M. Dorn Foundation


To Be Announced!

Click Below To Learn More


    “Blue…like the sky. Where all possibilities soar. Cathedrals…a place of thought, growth, spiritual expression…serving as a symbolic doorway into and out of this world. Blue represents all potential and the progression of journeys. Cathedrals represent a place of beginnings, endings, solitude, fellowship, contemplation, knowledge and growth”. This is a story that commemorates living and passing through places of knowledge and of sharing and of that song called life.” ~ Jennifer Higdon

    Blue Cathedral was commissioned and premiered in 2000 by the Curtis Institute of Music.


    The Donald Sinta Quartet, First Prize Winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition, 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), the DSQ performs entirely from memory, which strengthens an already palpable connection with its audiences. Named for its mentor, legendary University of Michigan Saxophone Professor Donald Sinta, the quartet’s additional competition successes include a 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.Select highlights of the DSQ’s busy 2018-19 schedule include: The Fischoff Gold Medal tour throughout the Midwest in September, a concerto performance and residency at Grand Valley State University, a return to the Trust Performing Arts Center in Lancaster, and recitals in Canada for the Virtuosi Concerts in Winnipeg and Cecilian Chamber Series in Regina.

    In 2011, the DSQ gave the World Premiere of Bolcom’s own transcription of the Concerto Grosso with Concert Band, joining the University of Michigan Symphony Band for performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, and the Shanghai Conservatory. The quartet’s subsequent recording of the work garnered praise: Audiophile Audition declared them “superb musicians” and American Record Guide called it “the highlight of the album.” DSQ has also 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 New York recital debut at Weill Recital Hall, Purdue University Convocations, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Chautauqua Institution, Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, Rockport Chamber Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire, and in Michigan at the Great Lakes Music Festival the Detroit Institute of Arts. 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.

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

    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 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.

    The Donald Sinta Quartet’s repertoire spans centuries, ranging from commissions by today’s emerging composers to standards from the saxophone quartet literature to transcriptions by master composers such as Dvořák, Schubert and Shostakovich. 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. Additionally, DSQ has commissioned and premiered works by David Biedenbender, Kyle Blaha, Matthew Browne, Patrick Harlin, Kristin Kuster, Marc Mellits, Roger Zare, and many others. The group has just recorded its debut CD, Collider, to be released during 2018-19 on CAG Records.

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


    DMA – University of Michigan
    MM – University of Michigan
    BM – Crane School of Music at Potsdam

    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 (gvsu-saxophone.com), 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.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.


    Dr. Joe Girard is a concert saxophonist who enjoys a rising career as a soloist, chamber musician, and educator. His solo and chamber performances have taken him around the country and across the globe, appearing as a soloist with the Reno Philharmonic, Dallas Winds, Columbus State University Philharmonic, University of Michigan Symphony Band, and the Paris Républican Guard Band, among others. In April 2019, he will appear as a soloist with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra on Glazunov’s Concerto and Ibert’s Concertino da Camera. Dr. Girard is currently Assistant Professor of Saxophone at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia.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 won a gold medal at the 2018 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, first prize at the 2017 M-Prize International Chamber Music Competition, the Alice Coleman Grand Prize at the 2013 Coleman Chamber Music Competition, and first place at the 2012 North American Saxophone Alliance Quartet Competition. 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. The group will release their debut CD, Collider, this fall.

    As an educator, Dr. Girard has presented masterclasses and clinics across the United States, including at the Brevard Music Center, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, Frost School of Music, and Grand Valley State University among others, in addition to internationally at the Conservatori de les Illes Balears, Conservatoire de Paris, and Conservatoire de Versailles. He is dedicated to community engagement and education and regularly works with elementary, middle, and high school students around the country to nurture their curiosity in the arts. Recently, he was a part of the inaugural Schwob Summer Music Festival for high school-aged students at Columbus State University, an immersive music camp that will take place again in June 2019.

    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 renowned saxophone pedagogue Donald Sinta, serving as a 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 concepts from the sciences to his teaching and performing. He is a Selmer Performing Artist and performs exclusively on Selmer Paris Saxophones.


    Zach Stern enjoys a career as a saxophone soloist, chamber musician, and educator. Performances have taken him all over the world, including to such venues as Carnegie Hall, Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. As both a soloist and chamber musician, Zach has received top prizes at many of the country’s most respected competitions including the M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, the Concert Artists Guild Competition, the Fischoff and Coleman Chamber Music Competitions, the University of Michigan Concerto Competition, and the Young Texas Artists Competition. He has performed as a featured soloist with the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra, the French Republican Guard Band, the Dallas Winds, the DuPage Symphony Orchestra, the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra, and the South Oakland Concert Band (MI).Zach maintains a private studio while also teaching at the Eastman Community Music School in Rochester, NY. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Saxophone Performance and Literature at the Eastman School of Music with Professor Chien-Kwan Lin. Zach also serves as a teaching assistant for the Eastman saxophone studio.

    Prior to his studies at Eastman, Zach earned his Master of Music degree and his Bachelor of Music in Saxophone Performance and Music Education at the University of Michigan, where he served as the teaching assistant to Professor Donald Sinta and received the Laurence Teal Scholarship Award. He has also studied with Dr. Scott Plugge.

    Zach has presented master classes at Columbus State University, SUNY-Potsdam Crane School of Music, Wright State University, the University of Miami Frost School of Music, the Conservatory of Music of the Balearic Islands, Grand Valley State University, Brevard Music Center, as well as other universities, high schools, and middle schools around the country, and he has served as saxophone instructor at the Expressions Music Academy in Novi, MI.

    He is a Conn-Selmer Artist and performs exclusively on Selmer-Paris saxophones and mouthpieces.


    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.

    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.


    This year Carl Topilow will be celebrating his 12th season as Firelands Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor. His tenure with the orchestra has seen a dramatic improvement in the orchestra’s quality, a significant rise in subscriptions and concert attendance, and the appearance of world class soloists to our stage.In addition to his work with the FSO, Topilow is founding conductor of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, leads the National Repertory Orchestra, a summer festival in Breckenridge, Colorado. He is Faculty Emeritus at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Topilow has appeared as guest conductor for more than 120 orchestras in 37 states and 12 foreign countries.

    Topilow has assisted in the training of talented musicians and conductors for positions in orchestras in the United States and abroad and has supplied numerous young musicians the opportunity to perform as both orchestra members and soloists. His manner of presenting the music through musical illustrations and guides has enhanced the concert experience for audience members.

    In addition to his work as conductor, Topilow continues to perform as clarinetist with orchestra as well as with piano in informal recitals.

    Topilow’s wife Shirley is the President and CEO of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra. Their daughter Jenny is a violinist with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Their daughter Emily is a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University, where she is majored in psychology and minored in marketing, and played in the BGSU Symphony Orchestra.