The popular Summer Concert Series at historic St. John’s Church in Valle Crucis continues its 10th anniversary season with a performance by the award-winning New Century Saxophone Quartet at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 4. It is the third of four monthly events planned from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend.
The quartet will perform its versatile repertory that includes selections from Bach to the Beatles, all on saxophones.
NCSQ consists of artists Michael Stephenson on soprano sax, alto saxophonist Chris Hemingway, Stephen Pollock on tenor sax and baritone saxophonist Drew Hays. They have performed around the world and in 48 of the 50 United States.
“We love playing in the mountains, and have a special fondness for Valle Crucis and the artists and residents of that community,” said Pollock, a founding member of NCSQ and the only member remaining from the original ensemble. When asked about appearing on the St. John’s Summer Concert Series, Pollack replied, “Audiences who appreciate what we do inspire us to take our performance to the highest level.”
For more than 30 years, the NCSQ has entertained audiences with a combination of skillful artistry and down-home fun. Founded in Winston-Salem the quartet has toured throughout the United States and the World performing in major concert venues including Carnegie Hall, Chicago’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Atlanta’s Spivey Concert Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
NCSQ has appeared on television and radio across the United States on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, the Voice of America and North Carolina Public TV. New Century has been the resident ensemble of two NC radio stations, WUNC in Chapel Hill and WHQR in Wilmington. Outside of the U.S., Panamanian TV aired a documentary and live performance, and in the Netherlands, Dutch radio presented a live broadcast from the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. In January 1998, the ensemble participated in a special performance for the Chinese New Year.
They are the only ensemble of its kind to ever win First Prize of the Concert Artists Guild Competition and have been hailed as “a pioneering and versatile group.”
Their New York debut at Carnegie Hall earned the group praise for their “virtuosic display of dexterity and keen ensemble work,” in which the “players handled all the music with panache,” according to the New York Post.
Beyond the concert stage, New Century has premiered numerous new works at international conferences and symposiums including most recently at the 2012 International Saxophone Congress in St. Andrews, Scotland, the 2012 North American Saxophone Alliance bi-annual conference in Tempe, Az., and the 2015 US Navy Band International Saxophone Symposium in Winchester, Va.
A summer mission of Holy Cross Episcopal Church, historic St. John’s is a picturesque chapel, consecrated in 1862, located in the Watauga County countryside. The venue provides marvelous acoustics for music with its wooden walls and floors forming a natural sounding board for live performances.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary season this year, the concert series showcases some of the High Country’s finest musicians along with regional artists of national prominence. Attendees linger until sunset to mingle with the artists after their performance. All concerts begin promptly at 5 p.m., are approximately 75 minutes in duration and followed by a potluck supper. Admission is only $5 per person with children admitted free of charge.
Attendees traditionally bring a dish to share during the potluck supper on the lawn that follows every summer concert, with dozens of folks arriving early to begin the social aspect of the evening’s festivities. Many audience members prefer to set up lawn chairs near the open windows of the chapel and listen to the music as it resonates throughout the valley. All are welcome as local residents mingle with newcomers and visitors to the melting pot that is historic St. John’s.
The concert will be performed in St. John’s Chapel, located at 645 Herb Thomas Road, off of Mast Gap Road in the Sugar Grove community near Valle Crucis. Signs are posted throughout the valley directing audience members to the concert location. For more information, please visit the concert website at www.holycrossvallecrucis.net or call (828) 963-4609.