He’ll Be Home For Christmas

Doesn’t matter if it’s alto, baritone, soprano or tenor – I do love a saxophone. I don’t know how to play one, but maybe it’s because I sing soprano that I’m especially fond of a soprano sax. To me, it has a dreamy, tender, touching tone.

Since late summer, I’ve been listening to and tremendously enjoying a compact disc of instrumental sacred songs done on both alto and soprano sax. It’s titled, “Come Thou Fount,” and recorded by East Grand Forks native, Seth Custer.

Christmas is coming and so is Seth, home from Greenville, S.C., where he is a music professor at Bob Jones University. And of course he’s bringing his saxophones with him.

At 7 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 23), Seth’s home church, Bible Baptist at 6367 Gateway Drive, will present its traditional decades old Christmas concert in its sanctuary. Besides other BBC musicians, Seth will be featured, performing original Christmas arrangements on alto and soprano saxophone. Seth will be accompanied by his wife, Moriah, on piano. Moriah, a gifted harpist, will perform solo, as well.

Seth is the son of Grace and the Rev. Mike Custer. His mom tells me that even as a toddler, Seth was very in tune with music and sounds of any kind. “Anytime he heard a bell, whistle or siren, he would repeat the sound or intervals exactly on pitch,” Grace said. “At almost 3 years of age, even though he couldn’t pronounce a lot of the words very well, he could sing the National Anthem exactly on pitch.”

It was then that Grace began her search for a teacher who worked with very young children. “One Sunday, I picked up the Grand Forks Herald and there was an article about ‘Mini Music Makers,’ a preschool music class taught by Dolores Loberg and Janie Greene. At almost 4, Seth was the first student signed up and thus began an over 20 year relationship with Dolores Loberg who would become his piano teacher through all his elementary and secondary school years. She taught all our children piano and really became a member of our family. Seth began saxophone lessons at 9, studying with UND Professor Beth Rheude.”

At about 14, Seth became dissatisfied with the classical music arrangements he found to play in church so he started composing and arranging his own music. “Composing and arranging music are very time intensive,” Grace said, “but this suits Seth’s personality perfectly. He is very patient and is very much a perfectionist!”

Seth graduated from UND in saxophone performance in 2004 He received his master’s in music composition at Central Michigan University in 2006 and a Ph.D in composition in 2009 from the University of Iowa.

He was recently commissioned by the South Carolina Music Teachers Association to write a saxophone quartet piece which premiered in November 2010. Also, July 2011 marks the 6th year Seth has been an instructor at the Junior Composer’s Institute, sponsored by the National Federation of Music Clubs held on the campus of Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

Seems to me the Christmas concert Thursday evening at Bible Baptist Church is one NOT to be missed.

Until Soon