Gerald Danovitch Saxophone Quartet/Quatuor de saxophones Gerald Danovitch
Founded in 1968 in Montreal by its director, Gerald Danovitch (b Montreal 24 Feb 1932, d Montreal 1 Dec 1997), it was originally made up of Danovitch (soprano saxophone), Donald Hughes (alto), Shane Nestruck (baritone), and Abe Kestenberg (tenor). Hughes was replaced by Danovitch's student Peter Freeman in 1976 and Nestruck by Nancy Newman in 1978. Janis Steprans, also a Danovitch student, performed with the quartet from around 1994.
The quartet became an acclaimed classical saxophone ensemble. In 1983 the ensemble won the du Maurier Search for Stars Contest organized by the du Maurier Council for the Performing Arts (du Maurier Arts). In 1986 it performed Pierre-Max Dubois' "Concerto" for saxophone quartet and strings with the Orchestre métropolitain, conducted by the composer. The ensemble frequently performed on CBC radio and TV, at the PDA and at McGill University's Pollack Hall, as well as at the FIJM (1989) and the Festival International de Lanaudière (1989). In 1988 it performed at the Ninth World Saxophone Congress in Japan and toured in the Far East. The group also performed at Place des Arts in Montreal, Bishop's University, and other eastern Canada and New York state locations. They appeared at the 10th saxophone congress in 1992 in Italy, performing arrangements by Michel Perrault of works by Gershwin and Rossini, and of Leonard Bernstein by Art Phillips. (In Italy, Freeman was replaced by Patrick Vetter on alto sax.) The quartet appeared in Whitehorse and Dawson City in 1993. The ensemble's repertoire included works composed or arranged for it by Al Baculis, John Burke, George Fiala, Kelsey Jones, Art Morrow, Michel Perrault, Mordechai Rechtman, Paquito D'Rivera, and Vic Vogel, among others. The members of the quartet have also taught at McGill University; Danovitch, who was on the McGill music faculty from 1964, was chair of the Woodwind Area and created the McGill jazz bands program.
After the sudden death of Danovitch from cancer in 1997, remaining members Newman and Kestenberg formed the Phenix Saxophone Quartet; they broadcast a tribute to Danovitch 8 Jan 1999 on CBC Radio II's "In Performance."