Steven Banks




As a performer and composer, saxophonist Steven Banks is striving to bring his instrument to the heart of the classical music world. He is driven to program and write music that directly addresses aspects of the human experience and is an active and intentional supporter of diverse voices in the future of concert music. Rick Perdian of Seen and Heard International has said “one senses that Banks has the potential to be one of the transformational musicians of the twenty-first century.” 

Banks is establishing himself as a compelling and charismatic soloist and in 2022, he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and was a chosen artist for WQXR’s Artist Propulsion Lab. He was the first saxophonist to be awarded First Prize at the Young Concert Artists Susan Wadsworth International Auditions. Critics have consistently recognized Banks for his warm yet glowing tone, well-crafted and communicative musical expression and deft technical abilities. 

Banks has appeared with The Cleveland Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, Utah Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and Aspen Festival Orchestra and has enjoyed working with such conductors as Franz Welser-Most, Xian Zhang, Nicholas McGegan, Rafael Payare, John Adams, Peter Oundjian, Jahja Ling, Matthias Pintscher, Alain Altinoglu and Roderick Cox.

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“Banks’ tone is difficult to describe, easy to enjoy, and at all times pleasing — unusually mellifluous for the saxophone, which, when handled carelessly, tends to sound like an enraged goose. But, with the tone he extracts so consistently from this instrument, Banks could play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” and people would be rapt.”

David Noel Edwards

The Berkshire Edge

“Steven Banks all but stole the show…He proved to be a remarkably nimble saxophonist who not only played his instrument with pristine clarity and enviable precision but knew how to add emotional heat to his interpretation.”

“The Concerto for Alto Saxophone, written in 1944, enabled Banks to exude plenty of energy in the first movement, labeled “Energetic,” and to show off in a demanding cadenza. In the second movement, marked “Meditative,” his music-making turned mellow and dreamy. And when the “Rhythmic” final movement came along, Banks let the fingers flutter and flash in bravura fashion. He dazzled, and those who came to listen cheered.”

Arthur Kaptainis

The Herald Times

More Reviews

“Of the many recitals that I have attended, a few have left indelible memories. Makoto Nakura’s electrifying New York debut recital in 1995 is one of them. He was the first marimbist to win the Young Concert Artists International Auditions. Another is now on that list, also courtesy of YCA: Steven Banks, the first saxophonist to win the prestigious competition.”

Seen and Heard International 

“ The larger point is that Steven Banks’ tremendous facility on all four varieties of the saxophone — the soprano and baritone saxophone as well as the more common alto sax and tenor sax — is matched by his incisive curiosity about expanding the classical field via his own compositions, collaborations, and verbal communication skills.”

DC Theatre Arts

“The suavest offering was by Steven Banks. Out of the few notes that comprise Philip Glass’s “Facades,” the saxophonist wove a spellbinding aria. The mellow, mournful line of his soprano sax soared over a gently throbbing orchestra, changing colors with every harmonic shift and bewitching listeners like the flute of a snake charmer.”

“The impressive saxophonist Steven Banks created miracles again thanks to a breathtaking technique, poetic musicality and a soft and seductive instrumental sound.”

“The concert was mainly an opportunity to discover a very talented performer, the American saxophonist Steven Banks. What an elegant artist! A beautiful and soft sound, ease in all registers and an impeccable, sharp, and finely chiseled technique.”

PAN 360 (Montréal)