Described as having an “effective sense of phrasing and dynamic sensitivity” (Florida Classical Review), saxophonist Dannel Espinoza is an award-winning soloist and chamber musician based in south Florida. Lauded as one of the outstanding young artists in his field, Dr. Espinoza is a D’Addario Performing Artist, and has performed throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.
In demand as a recitalist, guest artist, and clinician, Dr. Espinoza performs regularly with ensembles and orchestras in south Florida and has worked with students at schools throughout North America and Europe. As a soloist, Dr. Espinoza was awarded second prize at the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition, and was winner of the Arizona Music Teachers Association Young Artist Competition (2006 and 2007), Tucson Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition (second place 2006), and was named the winner of the Southwest Region for the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition (2007).
Dr. Espinoza is a founding member, and soprano saxophonist, of the award-winning saxophone quartet Project Fusion, an ensemble that has been praised for “elevating the saxophone to its rightful throne.”(LA Splash Magazine) In 2013, Project Fusion attracted national attention through the unique feat of performing musical programs exclusively from memory, reaching critical acclaim by becoming the first saxophone quartet to be awarded the Grand Prize and Audience Choice Award at the Plowman Chamber Music Competition. In that same year they were also awarded 1st place at the Music Teacher National Association Chamber Music Competition and Gold Medal at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. Project Fusion has also won top prizes at the Arriaga Chamber Music Competition (2012) as well as the Coleman-Saunderson award at the Coleman International Chamber Ensemble Competition (2012).
An avid chamber musician, Dr. Espinoza has taken part in many ensembles of all shapes and sizes. Formed in 2010, Kontra Duo with harpist Kristina Finch released their first (self-titled) album in 2014, which has been described as energetic, sweet, sassy, graceful, and muscular. Dr. Espinoza also served as the inaugural assistant director to the Eastman Saxophone Project – the first conductor-less saxophone ensemble in the United States to perform completely from memory. Previous chamber music accolades include being the first saxophonist to win the Alice Coleman-Grand Prize at the Coleman International Chamber Ensemble Competition, and residencies with National Music Festival, Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, Hot Springs Music Festival, Ethos New Music Society, Music in the Mountains, Festival of New American Music, and The Artist Series of Tallahassee.
An exciting arranger, Dr. Espinoza has produced many arrangements for saxophone ensemble, quartet, and duet for saxophone and harp. These arrangements include Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring for saxophone ensemble, which was premiered by the Eastman Saxophone Project and experienced by over 20,000 viewers in three days via YouTube, Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre for saxophone ensemble, Borodin’s String Quartet No.2 for saxophone quartet, Saint-Saëns’ Fantaisie for Violin and Harp for saxophone and harp, as well as many others.
A native of south Florida, Dannel Espinoza is the adjunct professor of saxophone at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, as well as actively pursuing a career as a freelance saxophonist and maintaining a private studio. Dr. Espinoza maintains a busy chamber and solo performing schedule. He completed his Doctor of Musical Arts in saxophone performance and literature with a minor in conducting at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY; where he was also awarded the prestigious Performer’s Certificate. His Bachelors and Masters degrees were earned at Northern Arizona University, and Florida State University, respectively. His primary teachers include Jonathan Bergeron, Patrick Meighan and Chien-Kwan Lin. From 2011-2013 Dannel served on the faculty of Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, NY, and served as teaching assistant at both Florida State University and the Eastman School of Music.