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Saxophone Soloist / Kenari Quartet / Assistant Professor of Saxophone at Ithaca College
Recognized for his “glowing mahogany tone” (Seen and Heard International) and “breathtaking” (Classical Voice of NC) performances, Steven Banks is a classical saxophonist, chamber musician, music educator, advocate for diversity and inclusion in classical music, and composer. Banks serves proudly as the Assistant Professor of Saxophone at Ithaca College.
As a recital soloist, Banks regularly performs on various music series and as a guest artist at universities around the country. He also 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 has performed as a concerto soloist with the North Carolina Symphony, Indiana University Symphony Orchestra, Durham Symphony, Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and Baldwin Wallace Conservatory Symphonic Wind Ensemble.
Banks is the baritone saxophonist of the award-winning Kenari Quartet. They enjoy a regular performance schedule at chamber music series and universities around the country. The group has earned top prizes at 7 national and international chamber music competitions. Their debut album, French Saxophone Quartets, was released in December 2016 under the Naxos Records label. Kenari is represented by Jean Schreiber Management.
Banks is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in music education, performance, and newly commissioned works in the classical realm. He gave a talk at the TEDxNorthwesternU 2017 conference with ideas about how to create change in institutionalized prejudices against women and people of color. Since the talk, Banks has written an article for WQXR and given guest lectures on the history of black classical composers. Banks has served as a member of the first Committee on the Status of Women for the North American Saxophone Alliance, and is proud to have been selected as a member of the jury for the first Female Saxophonist Competition. As a collegiate professor, Banks makes a concerted effort to ensure that all music students of color feel supported in their everyday studies.
As a jazz saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist, Banks has performed alongside members and former members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Buddy Rich Big Band, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, among others. He has played on professionally-released recordings, including Michael Spiro and Wayne Wallace’s album, Canto America, which was nominated for a 2017 GRAMMY award.
Banks has a Master of Music degree from the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music in Saxophone Performance and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Saxophone Performance with a minor in Jazz Studies from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. His primary saxophone teachers have been Taimur Sullivan, Otis Murphy, Jr., and Galvin Crisp. He has studied jazz with David Baker, Pat Harbison, Jeremy Allen, Luke Gillespie, Tom Walsh, Wayne Wallace, Brent Wallarab, and Ronald Rudkin.