New Century Saxophone Quartet Biography

Season Listing | Program | Biography

About the Quartet

New Century Saxophone Quartet is a pioneering and versatile group winning new-found enthusiasm for its diverse repertory of innovative contemporary works and imaginative adaptations comprising an extraordinary range of musical styles. New Century has been heard in major concert venues and on radio and television throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia; in recordings for the Channel Classics label; and in unusual performance settings including two Command Performances for President Clinton at the White House, an appearance with the United States Navy Band, in Washington, and a Chinese New Year broadcast seen by a television audience of over 300 million worldwide.

Recent and ongoing projects include performances of New Century commissions such as Peter Schickele’s “New Century Suite” (Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra), a new work from jazz saxophonist Bob Mintzer, the innovative “A New Century Christmas” program, and “The Art of Fugue” Project. The only ensemble of its kind to win First Prize of the Concert Artists Guild Competition, the quartet is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and in its home state from the North Carolina Arts Council.

About the Musicians

DREW HAYS serves as an Assistant Professor of Music at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, where he teaches saxophone and jazz studies. He has performed with many groups throughout North Carolina and Virginia including the Winston-Salem Symphony, the Charlotte Symphony, the Roanoke Symphony, the Eastern Music Festival Orchestra, the North Carolina Saxophone Ensemble, and the Red Clay Saxophone Quartet. Drew also performs with his own jazz small groups throughout the Greensboro and Winston-Salem area. Drew grew up in a musical family in rural, southern Ohio where he studied saxophone and oboe and played guitar and bass in local rock bands. He completed a DMA in saxophone at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.

CHRIS HEMMINGWAY, born in Florence, SC and now living in Pittsburgh, PA. Chris’ natural fluency in both classical and jazz styles separates him from most chamber musicians. Now in his fifth season with the New Century Saxophone Quartet, his performing career is equally complemented with an active freelance jazz career in Pittsburgh. He performs regularly with Azucar Pittsburgh’s Premier salsa band, the Roger Humphries Big Band, the Al Dowe Quintet, and with New York City jazz trumpeter Sean Jones, who has just recently released his first solo recording. As a sophomore undergraduate at Duquesne University, Chris won the School of Music’s prestigious concerto competition. At the young age of 21, he was also a featured soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony.

MICHAEL STEPHENSON, soprano saxophonist for New Century Saxophone Quartet, received his Bachelor of Music degree from the North Carolina School of the Arts where he was a student of James Houlik. He received his Master of Music degree from Ithaca College where he was a student of Steven Mauk. From 1988-92, Michael was a Visiting Artist at Randolph and Pitt Community Colleges. As a Visiting Artist, Michael performed over 400 concerts across North Carolina, as well as at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. As an orchestral saxophonist he has appeared with the North Carolina, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and Western Piedmont Symphonies.

STEPHEN POLLOCK is a founding member and tenor saxophonist of the New Century Saxophone Quartet. He was born in Wurtzburg, Germany and grew up in various cities in the United States and abroad. Mr. Pollock received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at the North Carolina School of the Arts where he studied with Concert Saxophonist James Houlik. He has performed as Principal Saxophonist with the Western Piedmont, Salisbury, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Charlotte, North Carolina, Charleston, and the Tanglewood Massachusetts Festival Symphonies. As a solo recitalist, Mr. Pollock has performed throughout North Carolina as well as at the Hartt School of Music of the University of Hartford, the University of Michigan School of Music, and the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has also appeared with celebrities such as Steve Allen, Helen Reddy, Marvin Hamlisch, Boots Randolph, and Natalie Cole.

XIN GAO of Chengdu City, China, has enjoyed tremendous success in his young musical career. As a high school student at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music, he met American tenor saxophone virtuoso, James Houlik, which paved the way for his move to the United States. In 2004, Xin moved to Pittsburgh, PA, to study with Houlik at Duquesne University. During his time at Duquesne, he competed in the Second International Jean-Marie Londeix Saxophone Competition in Bangkok, Thailand, advancing to the semi-final round, and founded the QuadrATOMIC saxophone quartet, which competed in both the Fischoff and Coleman International Chamber Ensemble Competitions and won the prestigious Coleman Saunderson Prize.