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Saxophone Quartet to Perform at Christmas Party

The Foothills Saxophone Quartet will provide musical entertainment for the Anderson Artists Guild Christmas party, which will start at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec 9, upstairs at the Anderson Arts Center. They will be playing jazz, swing, pop, and Christmas music. The group has been together for nine years.

The four men have diverse backgrounds.

Ben Hursey, who plays tenor sax, is retired from a career conducting wastewater inspections for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. These days, he has a lot more time for music, which has always been a hobby. He teaches music two days a week and has played with the Anderson Symphony for 42 years. He learned the saxophone and got his first instrument from his brother.

Ray Spires, on alto sax, studied woodwinds in college but worked for Michelin Tire Corporation in mechanical maintenance while his children were young. As they grew, he started playing more and taught woodwinds as an adjunct faculty member for several colleges. After retiring, he toured with the Tommy Dorsey Band, having filled in for someone before becoming a regular member. The job took him all over the world, often on cruise ships, to as far away as Australia and New Zealand. He stopped touring a couple of years ago. Nowadays, besides the saxophone quartet, he plays in a German band for Octoberfest, in a church orchestra, and on oboe for GAMAC (The Greater Anderson Musical Arts Consortium).

David Fry, on soprano sax, has a master’s degree in music education but prefers the delicate art of repairing woodwind instruments at Music & Arts in Anderson. “It’s fun to make instruments play the best they can,” he said. But like his bandmates, he can’t resist the lure of performing. For 30 years, he has played for an annual ballroom dance competition at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. He is also part of a clarinet quartet and brings his own one-man band to parties.

Henry Nicholson, on baritone sax, spent 38 years as a chemical engineer in the nuclear power business for Duke Energy. He plays bass clarinet with the Charlotte Philharmonic Orchestra and other gigs as they become available. And he has returned to school at Clemson University to study music. “Now when I’m playing the music, I can see what the composer has put there and why she has put those notes on that paper in that order,” he said. “It helps me understand better why music sounds the way it sounds.”

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