The Mana Quartet

Hailed as "A new bright light in the world of chamber music," by Pulitzer Prize Winner Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, the Mana Quartet has provided a global audience with exciting and innovative presentations of classical music since 2004. Recently, the foursome became the first saxophone quartet in the Coleman International Chamber Competitionís 63 year history to receive the coveted Alice Coleman Grand Prize, which immediately launched them into the professional chamber music arena. Since then the group has taken on a growing list of residencies at major music festivals, an ever increasing presence on the chamber circuit, and are repeatedly featured on NPRís Performance Today. Beginning in 2009, Mana is the Artistic Ensemble in Residence at the Hot Springs Music Festival, where they performed the U.S. Premiere of Swedish composer Anders Nilssonís Concerto Grosso for saxophone quartet and orchestra in 2010. In 2011, Mana was invited to join the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, as artists in residence. Mana joins the National Music Festival in the summer of 2012, as the festivals featured chamber ensemble.

Michael Hernandez (soprano saxophone)

Praised repeatedly by conductors and composers alike for his elegant playing and singing tone quality, Michaelís audiences are continuously impressed with the wide array of colors that emerge from his vintage soprano saxophone, ranging from the soft whisper of a flute, to the spinning sound of the oboe, and encompassing the remarkable upper register of a soaring violin.
Originally from Phoenix, Michaelís performance career has taken him all over the world. He has been heard in concert halls throughout Germany, Switzerland, Poland, France, Holland, Austria, Italy, the UK , Canada, and the United States. He has also been heard repeatedly on NPRís Performance Today, the most-listened-to classical music radio show in America.
Michael has collaborated, performed with, and premiered works by some of todayís most exciting composers and musicians including; Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Ola Gjeilo, Gregory Wanamaker, Walter Hartley, Enrico Chapela, Alan Theisen, John Leszczynski, Kevin Ames, Bernadette Peters and the Calder String Quartet.
During the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons Michael was an on-call saxophonist for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, other orchestral appearances include performances with the Gulf Coast Sinfonia, The Hot Springs Festival Orchestra, The National Festival Orchestra, The Scottsdale Philharmonic, Musica Nova Orchestra, The North Valley Symphony Orchestra, The West Valley Symphony, The Phoenix Youth Symphony, The Phoenix Womenís Choir, The Florida State University Orchestra, the Syracuse University Orchestra, and the Fredonia University Orchestra.
Hernandez is also the founder and Artistic Director of the Mana Saxophone Orchestra AZ, and is a board member of Classical Revolution Phoenix.
In an effort to nurture a future generation of artists Hernandez frequently tours Universities and Music Festivals where he is asked to share his insight on the world of Music Business and Entrepreneurship. Hernandez also acts as a free-lance artist consultant and artist representative, helping young performers jump- start their own career.
Michael has served on the faculties of the State University of New York College at Fredonia and the Florida State University. His own saxophone studies have included work with Wildy Zumwalt, Ronald Caravan, Patrick Meighan, Carina Rascher and the Rascher Saxophone Quartet.
Currently Michael resides in Phoenix, AZ where he works as a free-lance saxophonist and is on the faculty of Grand Canyon University.

Thomas Giles (alto saxophone)

After making his concerto debut with the Pikes Peak Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 16, Thomas Giles has appeared across the United States as a soloist and chamber musician. Giles past season includes solo appointments with the Illinois State University Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, and a guest appearance at the Red Note New Music Festival, also presenting world premiere performances at the North American Saxophone Alliance in Phoenix, Arizona, and at the World Saxophone Congress in St. Andrews, Scotland.
Notable past honors include: unanimous 1st prize at the international Midland-Odessa Concerto Competition, 1st prize at the MMTA Young Concert Artist Competition (3 successive years), 2nd prize at the MTNA Southern Conference (2 successive years), 2nd prize at St. Louisí SIYAO Competition, finalist in the international Ceour DíAlene Concerto Competition and the North American Saxophone Alliance Collegiate Competition. Giles has also won 1st prizes in 6 separate concerto competitions. Consecutively in 2007 and 2008, he was recognized as Classical Student Soloist of the Year by Downbeat Magazine.
As a concerto soloist, Giles has appeared several times with Wind Ensembles and Symphony Orchestras, performing concerti of Jacques Ibert, Karel Husa, Lars-Erik Larsson, William Bolcom, Piet Swerts, and Ingolf Dahl.As another ongoing project, Thomas Giles maintains a saxophone/piano duo with Liz Ames. The Giles-Ames duo, based in Chicago, has met great success concertizing in the United States and abroad. In the interest of promoting lesser known works of the repertoire, a major endeavor by this ensemble has been to create and perform piano reductions for saxophone concerti which might not otherwise be played.
In addition to national performances, Giles frequently hosts community out reach recitals at various venues in Illinois, performing at high schools and retirement establishments.
After graduating magna cum laude from the University of Southern Mississippi, finishing the Bachelor of Music degree in three years, he was appointed the graduate teaching assistant at the Illinois State University in the Fall of 2011, where he is pursuing a Masterís Degree on full scholarship, teaching undergraduate chamber music and his own private studio.

Cole Belt (tenor saxophone)

Born in Bitburg, Germany, Cole Belt moved to the states at a young age and spent most of his life in Arizona. As a soloist and chamber musician Cole has performed throughout the United States and Europe.
Like his colleagues, Cole has shared a lifelong passion for chamber music resulting in the formation of several chamber ensembles such as, The Aeolus Saxophone Quartet, the meridian[experiment], Duo Velocipede and Singularity. In 2011 the Aeolus Quartet embarked on their first invited European tour, performing concerts in Germany and Poland. This year Singularity won First Place at the Florida MTNA Chamber Music Competition. Cole completed his second European tour with the Impression Saxophone Ensemble; a group that attended and performed several chamber festivals throughout Poland and has more performances scheduled for May 2014.
Cole has inspired several composers to dedicate works to him, such as Jonathan Annis, Kevin Austin, Owen Davis, Bryant Fuhrmann, and Neil Anderson-Himmelspach. Recently, Cole was invited to be the saxophonist in residence at the Second Annual Taneycomo Music Festival in Branson, Missouri and this coming year he will continue as the Director of Saxophone Activities.
Cole is currently in the second year of a Masters of Music Degree from the Florida State University as a teaching assistant; his primary teachers include Jonathan Bergeron and Patrick Meighan.

Dannel Espinoza (baritone saxophone)

has performed throughout North America, Europe and China. As a soloist he has won second prize at the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition and was winner of the Arizona Music Teachers Association Young Artist Competition in 2006 and 2007. In 2006 Dannel won second place in the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. In 2007, he was named the winner of the Southwest Region for the MTNA Young Artist Competition.
Dannel is also an avid chamber musician, in addition to his work with the Mana Quartet, he is a founding member of both the Mana Duo (sax/harp) and Project Fusion. In 2012 Project Fusion won top prize at the Arriaga Chamber Music Competition as well as the Coleman-Saunderson award at the Coleman International Chamber Ensemble Competition. In 2012 Fusion reached critical acclaim by taking home the Grand Prize at the Plowman Chamber Music Competition, 1st place at the MTNA Chamber Music Competition, Gold Medalist at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and the Audience Choice Award at the Plowman Chamber Music Competition.
From 2011-2013 Dannel served on the faculty of Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, NY . He currently resides in Miami, FL where he is actively pursuing a career as a freelance saxophonist. He recently finished a DMA in Saxophone Performance and Literature at the Eastman School of Music. He received his Bachelorís degree in Music Performance at Northern Arizona University and his Masterís degree in Music Performance from Florida State University. His primary teachers include Jonathan Bergeron, Patrick Meighan and Chien-Kwan Lin. Dannel is an Artist-Clinician for Rico Reeds and díAddario, Inc. and he performs on Rico Reserve reeds exclusively.