University of Michigan Symphony Band
Each year, students and faculty of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance present more than 450 concerts, recitals, and staged performances in Ann Arbor. The schedule of concerts held by the School orchestras, bands, and choirs is augmented by numerous solo and small ensemble performances. Various ensembles specialize in early music, electronic music, contemporary classical music, jazz and improvisation, and many eclectic styles of music including Klezmer, mariachi, Japanese music, and Javanese gamelan.
Donald Sinta Saxophone Quartet - saxophones
he 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.
Xiang Gao - violin
Xiang Gao is recognized as one of the world's most successful performing artists of his generation from the People's Republic of China. His musical integrity and virtuoso technique have gained accolades from audiences and reviewers around the world, and he has performed for many world leaders. Most recently, Mr. Gao was a featured soloist performing for the Chinese President Hu JinTao and the visiting King Carlos I of Spain.
In 1994, Xiang became the first Chinese violinist to join the roster of Columbia Artists Management (Wilford/Tucker division) and began his professional solo career. Highlights of the recent season's engagements include the North American premiere of Eduard Tubin's violin concerto No. 1 with the Detroit Symphony; the 2011 world premiere of Kristin Kuster’s “Two Jades” for solo violin and symphony band in Disney Hall, Los Angeles and the National Center for Performing Arts, Beijing, China; the U.S. premier performance of Eino Tamberg's violin concerto with the Absolute Ensemble in Merkin Hall, New York City; solo performances with more than 100 orchestras worldwide including the Czech Philharmonic, the Gothenburg Symphony-National Orchestra of Sweden, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic of Russia, the Estonia National Symphony, the Mexico State Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony, the Memphis Symphony, the Alabama Symphony, Aspen Music Festival orchestras and the Knoxville Symphony. Mr. Gao frequently appears at Carnegie Hall, the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, the Aspen Music tent, the Shanghai Grand Theatre, the Smetana Hall, the "Prague Spring" International Music Festival, the Singapore International Music Festival, the David Oistrakh International Music Festival, the Spoleto Music Festival, the Tallinn International Festival, the Interlochen Festival, and the Meadow Brook Music Festival. Mr. Gao gives master-classes and recital performances throughout North America, Asia, Europe and South America.
As a multifaceted musician and singer songwriter, Mr. Gao composes, arranges and performs in the styles of Jazz, funk, bluegrass, Asian folk, pop and Latin American music. The 40thanniversary of Earth Day’s theme song “Sleep now, O Earth,” - composed by Xiang Gao for children’s choir, Erhu, Indian drums and chamber orchestra - was successfully premiered in Delaware in April of 2010. As a member of the "China Magpie" ensemble established by Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project, and the “6ixwire Project”, a crossover duet he and Erhu soloist Cathy Yang formed in 2009, Xiang is frequently featured on CCTV, China's leading TV station, performing live concerts for more than one billion TV viewers worldwide. Both crossover ensembles combine multiple styles, from Chinese folk to western classical and rock music.
With his strong interest in theater and Asian traditional music, Xiang Gao solo performed in the Nederlander Theatre on Broadway. He created the acclaimed Butterfly Lovers Multimedia Violin Concerto, which recreates a popular ancient Chinese fairytale similar to "Romeo and Juliet" for the western world. This production was successfully premiered in the Grand Opera House of Wilmington, Delaware in 2004 and was most recently awarded a grant by the National Endowment for the Arts. An orchestral debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra took place on February 17 of 2007. Xiang Gao is also the creator and producer of very creative and engaging "iMusic" productions, which successfully humanizes classical music in multimedia violin concerts that brings the audience of all ages and performers together with delightful artistic elements and special effects. His current projects include producing and directing “Encounters - the Qing and the West” – a theatrical concert he created to transport the audience on a musical journey of interactions between the Chinese Qing Dynasty(1644-1912) and the West, promoting cultural exchange and understanding. Xiang Gao’s musical theatre production “Campus Chatter” will open in April of 2015.
As a devoted chamber music performer and promoter, Xiang Gao has collaborated with some of the world's leading chamber musicians, such as members of the Guarneri String Quartet, Opus One, Orion String Quartet and the Beaux Arts Trio; violinists Cho-liang Lin, Pamela Frank, David Kim, Jonathan Carney and Paul Kantor; violists Steven Tenenbom, Daniel Foster, and Hongmei Xiao; Pianists Orli Shaham, Fou Ts'ong, Charles Abramovic and Martin Katz; cellists Andres Diaz, Erling Bengtsson and Peter Wiley; leading members of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, and many others. Xiang Gao is the founder and director of two non-profit art organizations: "China Virtuosi" ensemble and China Music Foundation (USA).
Mr. Gao lives in Newark, Delaware, where he is the Trustees Distinguished Professor of Music and the producing artistic director of the Master Players Concert Series at the University of Delaware. As the first Chinese concert artist to be named an endowed professorship in the U.S., he is also the ZiJiang Professor of Music at the East China Normal University in Shanghai, China and the Distinguished Visiting Professor at the FuJian Normal University in FuZhou, China. He performs on a fine violin made by master maker G.B. Ceruti of Cremona, Italy in 1794. The University of Delaware purchased this rare instrument to support Mr. Gao's international performing career. In 2007, the Stradivari Society in Chicago selected Mr. Gao to be a recipient of world famous Stradivarius violins for his international solo concerts.
Between his busy performing and teaching careers, Mr. Gao can be found cooking Chinese cuisine, watching Michigan football or skiing with wife Renee on the beautiful mountains of Vail, Colorado. Their daughter, Samantha Rae Gao, was born in May of 2005 and is attending the Newark Charter School. Xiang Gao has been honored to work with many talented young musicians in the past 15 years who have inspired him.
Amy Porter - flute
Featured in the March 2018 edition of New on NAXOS for her recording of Michael Daugherty’s Trail of Tears with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, flutist Amy Porter has been praised by critics for her exceptional musical talent and passion for scholarship. This captivating performer was described by Carl Cunningham in the Houston Post as having “succeeded in avoiding all the overdone playing styles of the most famous flutists today.” In American Record Guide, flutist Christopher Chaffee wrote, “If you have not heard her playing, you should.” Ms. Porter “played with graceful poise,” noted Allan Kozinn in The New York Times. And Geraldine Freedman, writing in the Albany Gazette, commented, “Amy Porter showed that she’s not only very versatile but that she can do everything well. She chose a program that tested every aspect of her playing from a Baroque sensibility to using the instrument as a vehicle of sound effects, and she met each challenge with passion, skill and much musicality.”
Ms. Porter has been a featured soloist with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, and with the Atlanta, Houston, Omaha, Delaware, Albany, Flint, Billings, Battle Creek, Arkansas, and Elgin symphony orchestras. She has twice appeared in recital at the National Concert Hall in Taipei, as well as at Skidmore College’s Arthur Zankel Music Center. Her collaborators have included such distinguished conductors as Nicholas McGegan, Ransom Wilson, David Alan Miller, Yoel Levi, Thomas Wilkins, José-Luis Gomez, Enrique Diemecke, David Amado, Anne Harrigan, and Arie Lipsky. She has given premieres of works by Michael Daugherty, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Joel Puckett, Christopher Caliendo, Katherine Hoover, and Frank Ticheli, among others.
Winner of the 3rd Kobe International Flute Competition and the Paris/Ville d’Avray International Flute Competition, Ms. Porter has served on international juries around the world, including the 6th Kobe International Flute Competition. She has been heard in recital on National Public Radio; highlighted on PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center; and featured on the covers and as a writer for the magazines Flute Talk in the USA and The Flute in Japan.
In 2006 Ms. Porter became the first performing artist to be awarded the University of Michigan’s Henry Russel Award for distinguished scholarship and conspicuous ability as a teacher. Her popular study guide on the German composer Sigfrid Karg-Elert elicited the following comment from Spanish Flute Society: “Strength, beauty, a captivating and seductive force, sensitivity, perfection and a sense of humor characterize the impressive American flautist Amy Porter.”
She has won praise both as a recording artist and as a chamber musician. Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, in her New York Times review of the CD In Translation: Selections from J.S. Bach’s Cello Suites on the Equilibrium label, applauded Ms. Porter for her “gleaming, lyrical reading” of those works. As a member of Trio Virado with violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez and guitarist João Luiz, she recorded Mangabeira, a CD featuring works by Piazzolla, Brouwer, Hand, Assad and Luiz, about which Ken Keaton wrote in American Record Guide: “First let me say that these are fine musicians, and they present a set of performances that are unfailingly strong, expressive, and imaginative.”
Formerly a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Porter was recently appointed Principal Flute of North Carolina’s Brevard Music Center, where she will perform as soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player.
Highlights of Ms. Porter’s 2019-20 season include a tour of Missouri with Trio Virado and appearances at the Brevard Music Center as Principal Flute, The University of Kansas, and MidSouth Flute Festival. She will also perform Daugherty's "Trail of Tears" with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. Recent study guide releases include her latest “THE GAUBERT CYCLE: The Complete Works for Flute and Piano by Philippe Gaubert” with guests Tim Carey and Penelope Fischer. The printed edition, Philippe Gaubert Treasures for Flute and Piano, is published by Carl Fischer.
Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Ms. Porter graduated from The Juilliard School and pursued further studies at the Mozarteum Academy in Salzburg. She plays a 14K white gold flute with rose gold engraved keys made for her by the Wm. S. Haynes Co.
Amy Porter is represented worldwide by Sciolino Artist Management (samnyc.us).
Michael Haithcock - conductor
Michael Haithcock assumed his duties as director of bands and professor of music (conducting) at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2001 following twenty-three years on the faculty of Baylor University. Following in the footsteps of William D. Revelli and H. Robert Reynolds, Professor Haithcock conducts the internationally renowned University of Michigan Symphony Band, guides the acclaimed graduate band and wind ensemble conducting program, and provides administrative leadership for all aspects of the University of Michigan’s diverse and historic band program.
Ensembles under Haithcock’s guidance have received a wide array of critical acclaim for their high artistic standards of performance and repertoire. These accolades have come through concerts at national and state conventions, performances in major concert venues, and recordings on the Albany, Arsis, and Equilibrium labels. Haithcock was selected to conduct the world premiere of Daron Hagen’s Bandanna, an opera for voice and wind band, commissioned by the College Band Directors’ National Association. He is a leader in commissioning and premiering new works for concert band.
Haithcock has earned the praise of both composers and conductors for his innovative approaches to developing the wind ensemble repertoire and programming. Haithcock is in constant demand as a guest conductor and as a resource person for symposiums and workshops in a variety of instructional settings as well as festival and all-state appearances throughout the country.
A graduate of East Carolina University – where he received the 1996 Outstanding Alumni Award from the School of Music – and Baylor University, Haithcock has done additional study at a variety of conducting workshops including the Herbert Blomstedt Orchestral Conducting Institute. The Instrumentalist, the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association, the School Musician, the Southwest Music Educator, and WINDS magazine have published his articles on conducting and wind literature.