Steven Banks, classical saxophone & Xak Bjerken, piano: July 17 at 6PM
PROGRAMWolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Oboe Quartet in F Major, K. 378/368b
“One senses that Banks has the potential to be one of the transformational musicians of the twenty-first century. ”
— Seen and Heard International
“...the soloist took off like a rocket with a couple of ascending riffs that had more notes than you could count in the time they were played. His fingers flying on the keys and his embouchure firm on the mouthpiece, Banks played a breathtaking performance with only a few orchestral interludes to give him (and us) a chance to catch a breath. This young artist’s future is wide open to him.” ~ Classical Voice of North Carolina
Recognized for his “glowing mahogany tone” (Seen and Heard International) and “breathtaking” (Classical Voice of NC) performances, American classical saxophonist Steven Banks “is at the forefront of musicians of his generation in his display of the highest level of both artistry and pedagogy" (Taimur Sullivan, Professor of Saxophone, Northwestern University).
Steven Banks is the first saxophonist to earn a place on the Young Concert Artists roster in its 59-year history, capturing First Prize at the 2019 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. He has an ongoing relationship with The Cleveland Orchestra, having performed with the legendary ensemble in Severance Hall, Carnegie Hall, and at the Blossom Music Center. Banks is the baritone saxophonist of the award-winning Kenari Quartet.
Banks is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in music education, performance, and newly commissioned works in the classical realm. He serves proudly as Assistant Professor of Saxophone at Ithaca College.
Professor of Piano at Cornell University, Xak Bjerken, is a pianist of the Los Angeles Piano Quartet. He has held chamber music residencies at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Spoleto Festival and the Olympic Music Festival. Orchestral solo appearances include Edinburgh with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Rome with the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, and Disney Hall in Los Angeles. His performance appearances include the Royal Concertgebouw Hall in Amsterdam, Alice Tully Hall, Weill Hall, the Kennedy Center, Glinka Hall in St. Petersburg and the Konzerthaus in Berlin.
Bjerken has worked closely with composers Győrgy Kurtag, Sofia Gubaidulina, Steven Stucky, and George Benjamin, and has premiered piano concertos by Stephen Hartke, Elizabeth Ogonek, and Jesse Jones, a recording of which will be released by Naxos in September 2021.
He co-directs Mayfest, an international chamber music, festival with his wife, pianist Miri Yampolsky. He studied with Aube Tzerko at the University of California at Los Angeles and received his Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the Peabody Conservatory as a student of and teaching assistant to Leon Fleisher.