Chamber Music Series
FRIDAY February 19
SUNDAY February 21
We look back at favorite performances from three of our past seasons.
2016 - 2017
Arranged by Jeff Scott
Dance Mediterranea was composed by Palestinian-American composer Simon Shaheen. Shaheen grew up playing violin and oud, attending school first in Jerusalem, and then in New York. He specializes in performing and writing Arab music and has also formed ensembles dedicated to the performance of traditional Arab music. Qantara (Arabic for “arch”) is one of these ensembles and specializes in the fusion of different musical styles, including Arab, jazz, classical, and Latin American.
Dance Mediterranea was originally composed for Qantara and was adapted for wind quintet by Jeff Scott (horn, Imani Winds). Scott describes the arrangement, saying:
Dance Mediterranea is one of Shaheen’s classic compositions. The essence of traditional Middle Eastern sounds met with virtuosic compositional technique is more than apparent in this multi-dimensional, multi-metered piece. It mixes improvisation with block ensemble writing concluding with a fiery finish. This arrangement stems from the collaboration Imani Winds has established with master oud player, Simon Shaheen.
– Notes by Madeleine Folkerts
2015 - 2016
Wind Quintet No. 1
Jean Françaix’s talent for composition was encouraged from an early age by his musical parents. His father was the Director of the Conservatoire of Le Mans and was therefore able to put young Jean through extensive formal training both in piano and composition. He published his first piece in 1922 at ten years old, which earned him a place in Nadia Boulanger’s revered teaching studio among other prodigious composers of the day such as Aaron Copland. His music, in his own words, was above all written to “give pleasure.”
While it’s desirable for the audience to hear humor and playful conversation, Françaix deliberately made his first wind quintet virtuosic at the request of Louis Courtinat, French horn player in the Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française. Cortinat and his colleagues spent six months preparing the piece, but the premiere went very well and contributed to Françaix’s enduring legacy as a chamber music composer.
The quintet follows a fairly standard four movement scheme. The opening movement’s main fast section is precluded by a slow introduction. The breakneck second movement is interrupted several times by slower, calmer sections. The third movement is a set of contrasting variations on a slow theme. The finale consists of a brisk march, contrapuntal middle section, and soft coda. Throughout the piece, forward motion is the goal. Laughter along the way is encouraged, but don’t get left behind!
– Notes by Cameron Winrow
2015 - 2018
2017 - 2018
Changes of Phase
Written in 1999, Changes of Phase was Kenji Bunch’s first woodwind quintet. This is a rhythmically complex work that starts out with an ever-so-slightly out-of-phase duet between the clarinet and the flute. The first movement culminates with all the instruments playing the same notes in a soaring melody.
The second movement trades a sixteenth note flourish between instruments, with a surprising change of tone in the middle. The third movement is chorale-like and reminiscent of the slower sections of Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring. The final movement, with its unison winds, rhythmic complexity and offbeats, brings to mind the big-band groups and dance styles at the height of popularity in the mid-20th century.
Born in Portland, Oregon, Bunch attended the Juilliard School, where he earned degrees in viola performance and composition. In March 2010, Bunch returned to Portland for a performance of his orchestral work For Our Children’s Children, by the Portland Youth Philharmonic. In the same concert, he joined the orchestra onstage to perform Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, which he has said helped to inspire him to become a composer.
– Notes by Lauren Blackerby