Saturday, February 22, 2020

Imani Winds

My alma mater presented a woodwind quintet called Imani Winds.  A woodwind quintet is a traditional ensemble with exactly the makeup of players you see illustrated.  And yes, a French horn is not a woodwind.  There is composed repertoire for this ensemble, but mostly they played arrangements.  The members left to right are:  Mark Dover, Brandon Patrick George, Monica Ellis, Jeff Scott and Toyin Spellman-Diaz. 

This concert had a theme:  The Beauty of Strife.  Artworks that came to us through war and political conflict.

Nkosi si di Leli by Enoch Mankayi Sontonga, arranged by Valerie Coleman is the South African National Anthem.  There is no note for this interesting piece because we all are familiar with the strife in South Africa.

Le Tombeau de Couperin [the tomb of Couperin] by Maurice Ravel is arranged by Mason Jones from the orchestral version of this piece.  Ravel is responding to the deaths of his friends in WWI by attempting to create a French suite such as Couperin might have written.  We heard 4 of the movements.

Quartet No 8 by Shostakovich is arranged from a string quartet by Mark Popkin.  We heard 5 movements.  It was explained from the stage that this work has a unifying theme.  Just as Bach wrote a piece using his name as a theme [BbACB], Shostakovich made a theme of his initials DSch [DEbCB] which appears through the work.  This work was composed from his reaction to the bombing of Dresden in WWII.

"Gift of Life" from Wanderings by Derek Bermel is concerned with conflict and cultural merging in Jerusalem.  It has a certain Klezmer quality.

Traditional Spirituals arranged by Valerie Coleman is "Steal Away" and "Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit" arranged for woodwind quintet.  We all know that these come from the period of American slavery, but what I didn't know was that they sometimes contained instructions on how to find the underground railroad leading to freedom.

Wapango by Paquito D'Rivera is originally for woodwind quintet and is a Mexican dance by a composer from Cuba.

I have listed this all out because of what a wonderful program it was.  Classical recitals are seldom this lively and fascinating.  We ended with an unknown encore with singing, including a little audience participation singing.  I loved it all.  I tried to find out what Imani means but failed.

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