Dr. J. Michael Weiss-Holmes is a talented solo and chamber musician who “… is one of the rising young saxophone stars in the United States” (Saxophone Journal). He “ranks among the very finest of today’s young intellectually and musically gifted saxophonists” (Dr. Frederick Hemke). Professor Weiss-Holmes’ active playing career has seen him performing at some of the most prestigious venues in the United States, China, Australia, Taiwan, and Europe.

Dr. Weiss-Holmes was recently part of a three-week European tour with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Riccardo Muti – sold out performances were held in the Philharmonie de Paris in Paris, France; the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany; the Musik Haas in Aalborg, Denmark; the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy; the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria; and finally the Festspeilhaus in Baden-Baden, Germany.

Dr. Weiss-Holmes has received international acclaim as an orchestral saxophonist, and has performed as principal saxophonist with numerous orchestras including recent performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Grant Park Orchestra, Sinfonia da Camera, the Toledo Repertoire Theatre, and the Champaign-Urbana Symphony. Weiss-Holmes has worked with such renown conductors as Riccardo Muti, Jaap van Zweden, Leonard Slatkin, David Robertson, Michael Tilson Thomas, Stéphane Denève, and Marin Alsop… just to name a few. He has also shared the stage with artists such as Ben Folds, Jane Lynch, The Temptations, Manhattan Transfer, and Idina Menzel.

Dr. Weiss-Holmes is currently Interim Assistant Dean for Enrollment & Student Services, Artist-Teacher of Saxophone, and Head of Woodwinds at Roosevelt University Chicago College of Performing Arts. He was previously on faculty at the University of Illinois, the College of Wooster, and the University of Notre Dame.

Dr. Weiss-Holmes is the Marketing Director for the North American Saxophone Alliance and served as Director of Marketing for Saxophones at Conn-Selmer, Inc. and as Artistic Advisor and Product Specialist with Vandoren. Professor Weiss-Holmes’ diverse background as a performer, educator and former member of the music industry have provided him with unique insight in preparing the next generation of music students for successful careers in their chosen field. As such, he has been invited to present clinics, masterclasses, and performances at some of the most prestigious saxophone programs both nationally and internationally. Weiss-Holmes is an active soloist of contemporary music and has commissioned and premiered numerous works for the saxophone.

His performances have received great accolades and can be heard on the CSO Resound, Mark, NAXOS, Aucourant, SEAMUS and Klavier Record labels; including a recent recording of Percy Grainger’s Music for Saxophone which was released on the NAXOS Record label. Dr. Weiss-Holmes is the saxophonist on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) Resound album’s release of a recording featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Riccardo Muti, playing an extended suite drawn from Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet score. The Chicago Tribune describes this recording as “played here with a brilliance and panache that brought the dramatic narrative alive.”  The disc can be ordered from iTunes here and from

Weiss-Holmes holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Saxophone Performance, a Bachelors degree in Music Education from Bowling Green State University where he was a student of Distinguished Research/Artist Professor John Sampen, and a Masters degree in Saxophone Performance and Literature from the University of Illinois where he was the graduate saxophone teaching assistant for Professor Debra Richtmeyer. He has had additional studies with saxophonists Jean-Marie Londeix, Claude Delangle, Griffin Campbell, Daniel Kientzy, and Eugene Rousseau. Dr. Weiss-Holmes is a member of the North American Saxophone Alliance and has performed in many of the national and regional conferences, as-well-as at the World Saxophone Congress.

Dr. Weiss-Holmes was the co-host of the 2014 North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference which was be held at the University of Illinois. He was recently a featured artist in the “We Are Vandoren” international ad campaign, appeared on the cover of the Sept/Oct 2012 Saxophone Journal, and is a Selmer Artist/Clinician as well as Vandoren Performing Artist.

Weiss-Holmes is married to Brad Weiss-Holmes and resides in Chicago, IL and San Francisco, CA.

Premiered & Commissioned works for saxophone:

  • Biota for tenor saxophone and tape by Ed Martin (2012)
  • The Line We Can’t Cross for alto saxophone and tape by Kyung Mee Choi (2008)
  • Reflection for solo alto saxophone by Hee Yun Kim (2008)
  • For Luciano for solo alto saxophone by Marilyn Shrude (2004)
  • Postcard from Riva del Garda for solo alto saxophone by John Stafford III (2004)
  • Shotscattered Snap for solo alto saxophone by Sean Hagerty (2004)
  • Postcard from the Dolomites for solo alto saxophone by Matthew Brazofsky (2004)
  • Aria for alto saxophone and piano by Luke Rosen (2002)

Premiered works for saxophone:

  • fo•ci for 13 saxophones by Erik Lund (2009)
  • Awakening for 13 saxophones by Ed Martin (2009)
  • World Without Words for 13 saxophones by Steve Taylor (2009)
  • Olinda for alto saxophone and piano by Erik Lund (2007)
  • Flurry for soprano saxophone and tape by Ed Martin (2006)


“It is always a pleasure to make music with J. Michael Weiss-Holmes. On each of his many occasions playing saxophone with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, he has shown himself to be a consummate artist and a fine colleague.”

— John Bruce Yeh, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

“… combines his extraordinary musical talent with a unique ability to communicate effectively with any audience.”

— Eugene Rousseau

“… represents a model for dedication to the arts and to music education in America.”

— Dr. John Sampen

“… is one of the rising young saxophone stars in the United States”

— The Saxophone Journal

“… ranks among the very finest of today’s young intellectually and musically gifted saxophonists”

— Dr. Frederick Hemke

“…brings his own special brand of elegance to the concert saxophone”

— Dr. John Sampen

“Michael is both an outstanding performer and insightful teacher.  He is absolutely first rate in all he does.”

— Clifford Leaman

“…the CSO musicians asserted their bragging rights in this repertory impressively. The solo players, including Martin on trumpet and J. Michael Holmes on saxophone, earned their ovations…”

— John von Rhein – Chicago Tribune

“…enchantingly soft pianos in the saxophone solos during the Old Castle.”

— Marcus Stäbler – Neuen Zürcher Zeitung

“Ravel’s Bolero was the terrific release it is meant to be. It had fine solos, notably the saxophone played by J. Michael Holmes…”

— Robin Lynam – South China Morning Post

“… atmospheric “Il vecchio castello,” the latter adorned with an eloquent saxophone solo.”

— Tim Sawyier – Chicago Classical Review

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