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Quintet breathes new life into classical music

staff report • Sep 23, 2011 at 4:11 AM

In 1997, five freelance musicians, finishing their degrees, pooled talents and became Imani Winds, after the Swahili word “faith.”Since then, Imani Winds has been nominated for a Grammy, featured on NPR and various media and become known for its commissioning and premieres of new works, its commitment to educating young musicians and its efforts to bridge European, American, African and Latin-American traditions.Flutist and composer Valerie Coleman told The Wall Street Journal that she decided to start the quintet — what she dubbed “a group of virtuoso musicians of color” — while she was in graduate school in New York and arrayed the group, which also includes oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz, clarinetist Mariam Adam, French hornist and composer Jeff Scott, and bassoonist Monica Ellis. On Thursday, Sept. 29, the nationally known classical ensemble-with-a-twist will perform at East Tennessee State University in the D.P. Culp University Center’s Martha Street Culp Auditorium. The concert, sponsored by the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts and the Department of Music at ETSU, starts at 7:30 p.m.Tickets are $20 for general admission; $15 for seniors 60 and older; and $5 for students with ID.“When we think about classical chamber music, we often think about string quartets or piano trios,” said Anita DeAngelis, director of the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts. “Imani Winds provides us with an unusual opportunity to hear a woodwind quintet. Their repertoire includes the classical tradition, but they have also commissioned new works inspired by global sounds. The music performed is rich, fresh and crisp, and Imani Winds plays with an enthusiasm that is infectious.”The group’s touring schedule has taken them to major concert venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and Disney Hall, as well as most major university campuses, from Amherst to Austin to Stanford. “From Mendelssohn, Jean Françaix, György Ligeti and Luciano Berio, to Astor Piazzolla, Elliott Carter and John Harbison, and to the unexpected ranks of Paquito D'Rivera and Wayne Shorter, Imani Winds actively seeks to engage new music and new voices into the modern classical idiom,” according to the quintet’s Web site.In 2008, Imani kicked off its five-year Legacy Project to commission, premiere and tour 10 new works for woodwind quintet by emerging composers of diverse backgrounds. In addition to touring, the group has five releases on E1 Music, including the latest, “Terra Incognita,” in fall 2010.“Not only creating new music but training new musicians are priorities for Imani Winds,” DeAngelis said. “As a result, while at ETSU, members will hold master classes and special sessions on various aspects of music on campus and in the area.” The group participates also in residencies throughout the United States, giving master classes to thousands of students a year. In the summer of 2010, the ensemble launched its weeklong annual Chamber Music Institute on the Juilliard campus for 40 young instrumentalists . For more information on Imani Winds, visit the quintet’s website at www.imani  winds.com  . For tickets to their Johnson City concert or to find out more about the ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, call (423) 439-TKTS (8587) or visit www.etsu.edu/cas/-   arts.

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