What: Ensemble Music Society presents a woodwind quintet from New York
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where:Indiana History Center, 450 W. Ohio St.
Tickets: $25 at the door.
Woodwind quintet finding its unconventional niche
By Whitney Smith
March 11, 2005
Breaking the mold always seemed to be part of the program for an American
chamber music group coming to Indianapolis.
Five New York musicians who call themselves Imani Winds -- and will play
Wednesday night at the Indiana History Center -- play instruments traditional
to a woodwind quintet: flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn and bassoon.
But these musicians of African and Latin-American heritage don't stick to
Taking their name from the Swahili for "faith," Imani musicians play music
from Europe, North America and Africa. Sometimes they commission pieces. Sometimes
they write original works.
"We're an ensemble that can bridge a few gaps," said clarinetist Mariam Adam,
"more than the average quintet."
But how many all-black or mostly black woodwind quintets are touring these
Adam said, "You can count them on one hand, and still have fingers left over."
As a result, she believes that Imani has been free to discover its own niche.
Since the ensemble got together in 1996, it has developed a wide-ranging repertoire.
The group's Web site, imaniwinds.com, mentions music by American composer
John Harbison and Ugandan-born musician Justinian Tamusuza. Spiritual and
South American arrangements also are on the list.
"The Classical Underground," Imani's latest disc, recently released on the
Koch label, includes Lalo Schifrin's "La Nouvelle Orleans," Paquito D'Rivera's
"Aires Tropicales" and pieces by Imani flutist Valerie Coleman and horn player
Wednesday's concert will include Czech composer Pavel Haas' "Wind Quintet"
from 1929, Coleman's "Speech and Canzon" and Scott's "Titilayo."
"There's a little jazz, a little world music, a standard piece, a spiritual,"
Adam said. "Nine times out of 10, when we're sitting, greeting audiences after
a concert . . . there will always be somebody who says their wife or husband
dragged them to the concert. They didn't want to go and didn't know what to
expect, but had never heard instruments played this way."
Call Star reporter Whitney Smith at (317) 444-6226.