DENVILLE, NJ -- Residents gathered at the Denville Community Church on Diamond Spring Road for a concert performed by the Metropolitan Saxophone Quartet on Dec. 20.
"The church has beautiful space, and I've known the people from the church through the Christian Drama School and Heart for People," said soprano saxophonist Erik Donough.
"It was lovely that they asked us to come and do a concert. For this show, we are happy to give back. We often try interesting twists on classic music, like the same Christmas carol with different accompaniments. There are different ideas for everyone here."
Donough is a graduate of Ithaca College, with a bachelor of music degree in education, and of Montclair State University, where he earned a master of arts in performance. He studied under Dr. Paul Cohen, Dr. Steven Mauk, William Shadel, Peter Potosky and Charles Pillow. As a conductor and instrumentalist, Donough has performed in productions from Broadway to Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and with local concert bands and orchestras. He teaches middle school band in Livingston, New Jersey.
The Metropolitan Saxophone Quartet was started in 2004 and has been performing since with an ever-changing lineup. It was originally founded in New Brunswick at Rutgers University. The quartet is currently based in Morristown and performs all over New Jersey. The music once performed at St. Francis Residential Community in Denville but nowhere else in Denville until Friday's concert.
"I like it here in Denville as everything's going well so far," said Mike Webb, a member of the group from Bloomfield.
"It's an honor and privilege to be here and perform to new people."
Webb has performed professionally for 10 years and has been a substitute musician on Broadway. He also teaches music at Bogota Elementary School.
Other members of the Metropolitan Saxophone Quartet included Deanna Loertscher (alto saxophone), John DiEgidio (tenor saxophone) and Matt Olsson (drums). All musicians were excited to perform at the community church, especially since Christmas was fast approaching.
"It's a great way to kick off the holiday celebrations and I'm very excited," said Loertscher.
"It's a privilege to play with this awesome quartet."
Loertscher holds degrees from Ithaca College and Penn State University. She has performed her musical talents in a variety of places, such as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, the Kimmel Center, Woodstock Playhouse, Hangar Theatre, Nyack Library Carnegie Room and Columbia University, in addition to other venues in the New York metropolitan area. Regionally, she performs with the Ridgewood Concert Band, the New York Wind Symphony and the Ramsey Wind Symphony. She also teaches band at Harrison High School in New York.
DiEgidio has been a featured soloist with the New Sussex Symphony, the New Philharmonic of New Jersey, the Rutgers Symphony Band, the Rutgers Saxophone Ensemble and the Hawthorne Symphony Orchestra. He is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division, with a bachelor of music education. from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and is currently completing his master in music degree at Montclair State University. Furthermore, he is an associate director of bands at Mt. Olive High School, directing the marching band and saxophone ensemble, while team-teaching the Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band.
Olsson is a singer/songwriter/drummer/guitarist from Garfield, New Jersey. He has performed with the saxophone quartet since 2014, and currently tours with multiple bands throughout the world.
During the concert, the quartet performed instrumental versions of favorite holiday songs, such as “Joy to the World,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Let It Snow,” and “All I Want For Christmas Is You;” all with just saxophone and back-up drumming. They even covered the score of “The Nutcracker” and “Charlie's Brown's Christmas” and their saxophone version of "Happy" by Pharrell Williams.
"I've been looking forward to this for a while," said Young Kwang Jun, who serves as music director at the community church.
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"It's a blessing to this congregation during this time of the year."