African blues, traditional Chinese folk music and Latin melodies will be performed later this month by an unusual woodwind quintet known for its innovations.
Imani Winds, an American woodwind quintet, will perform on May 19 at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.
The quintet includes flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon. Woodwind quintets are rare and relatively difficult to assemble; there are very few works composed specifically for such ensembles, so adaptation and arrangement are extremely important.
In addition to their popular works nominated for Grammy Awards, such as "African Blues," the musicians will present an adaptation of Piazzola's "Libertango," as well as a Chinese folk composition, "Zhongguo Xiaojing" ("Small Chinese Scene"). The music by Song Fuyuan was composed specifically for Imani Winds and is intended as a gift for the Shanghai audience.
Compared with traditional string or brass quartets, a windwind quintet is more difficult to assemble because the five instruments are usually of different materials and in different shapes, with different tone colors and pitches.
That makes it especially difficult for the instruments to "sing" harmoniously, but when they do, they often make sophisticated and colorful music, according to Valerie Coleman, the initiator and flutist of Imani Winds.
The five musicians will walk on stage while playing the instruments, presenting the rhythm with their body language and music. The audience will be able to identify the special tone color of each instrument as well as its melody.
It will be a memorable experience, especially for anyone hearing a windwind quintet for the first time, Coleman says.
"Western classical music is growing and changing in the US as well as the world, and the audiences are expecting new interpretations of classical music," Coleman says. "We are one of the new interpretations, fulfilling their expectations, which leads to our success."
Since 1997, the quintet has taken a unique path, carving out a distinct presence in the classical music world with its dynamic playing, culturally poignant programming, genre-blurring collaborations and outreach programs. With two member composers and a commitment to commissioning new work, the group enriches the traditional wind quintet repertoire while bridging European, American, African and Latin American traditions.
The ensemble has received numerous awards and is recognized for its innovations.
"Musicians always want a concert well-planned and full of inspiration at the same time, so do we," says Coleman. "Keeping loyal to the original work while making some live improvisation is difficult, but we hope that we won't disappoint Shanghai audiences."
Date: May 19, 7:30pm
Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center, 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong
Tickets: 120-300 yuan