Chamber Music Series
FRIDAY February 19
SUNDAY September 21
We look back at favorite performances from our past five seasons.
2015 - 2020
2019 - 2020
Valerie Coleman: Tzigane
Tzigane (not to be confused with Ravel’s famous violin work of the same name) is a new work for wind quintet, that celebrates the virtuosity of each member within the ensemble. Written in the fall of 2011, Valerie Coleman was inspired by two occurrences: Imani Winds’ collaboration with Palestinian oud player Simon Shaheen, and her recent completion of ROMA, a work for wind ensemble celebrating the culture of the Romani people (commonly referred to as ‘gypsies’). The work itself represents the third installment within a series inspired by the combination of Romani and middle eastern styles, the first two being a nonet for wind quintet and strings, and the previously mentioned wind ensemble.
Throughout the work, the bassoonist is scored to play a ‘low A’, which is typically not within the range of the bassoon, but is made possible with the insertion of a tube into the bell of the instrument, thereby extending the range. The work, however, is not about the unusual techniques, but rather stylized playing as Tzigane brings the same intensity and virtuosity found in gyspy violin to winds. This means that a certain level of freedom and passion is required to bring each solo alive, while a constant undercurrent of rhythm would provide a source of drive. The result is a colorful, highly-charged journey within one substantial movement.
Coleman is an American composer and flutist best known for her contributions to wind chamber music and for founding the wind quintet, Imani Winds, in 1997. She has released a number of studio albums with the group, one of which was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Classical Crossover Album in 2005. A graduate of Mannes College of Music and taught by musicians such as Julius Baker, her compositions frequently incorporate diverse styles, such as jazz with classical music and political or social themes. In 2002, her piece Umoja was listed as one of the “Top 101 Great American Works” by Chamber Music America.
– Notes by Norman Menzales
2018 - 2019
Lalo Schifrin: La Nouvelle Orleans
Like many musicians of his generation, Lalo Schifrin maintained interest in both jazz improvisation and the classical compositional tradition. After studying in Paris in the early 1950s and returning to his native Buenos Aires, he caught the attention of the eminent jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie, for whom he worked many years as pianist and composer-arranger. Since his move to the United States in 1958 he has maintained an active musical career via film and television scores, including music honored by four Grammy Awards and six Oscar nominations. Recently he has become Musical Director of both the newly formed Paris Philharmonic Orchestra and the Glendale (California) Symphony Orchestra.
Commissioned by the Dorian Wind Quintet, Lalo Schifrin’s La Nouvelle Orleans (1987) is among several of his compositions in which European derived compositional techniques are employed to juxtapose a sort of elaborated primitivism with what he called "universal thoughts." The work explores the principle of renewal, as verbally expressed in an old New Orleans saying (Eleven macks a-riding to the graveyard but only ten a-coming back). The title of the work itself symbolizes the advent of the new emerging from the old. La Nouvelle Orleans is an episodic work which combines many disparate elements in a clever, witty manner. An underlying tango rhythm unifies the first part of the piece, which gives way to a slow “blues” section, followed by an up-tempo Dixieland finale.
– Notes by Norman Menzales
2017 - 2018
Kenji Bunch: 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
2016 - 2017
Simon Shaheen: Dance Mediterrenea
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
Jean Françaix: 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