Founded in 1997, the Grammy-nominated quintet has become one of the most successful chamber music ensembles in the United States, carving out a distinct presence in the classical music world. The group’s performance was described by the Green Bay Press Gazetteas, “reminiscent of an abstract painting of many bright colors, a hymn, a foundation, airiness; reverence, a Scottish bagpipe, a chase, a comic conversation between two emphatic people, a requiem, a forceful monologue, Middle Eastern exotica, a grand entrance, delicate lace, conversation at a party and alma mater music.”
Using a traditional wind quintet instrumental combination of flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn and bassoon, the musicians bridge European, American, African and Latin American traditions. With two member composers, Valerie Coleman and Jeff Scott, the group is committed to culturally poignant programming, genre-blurring collaborations and inspirational outreach programs.
A performance by Imani Winds is likely to include music from the likes of Mendelssohn, Jean Françaix, György Ligeti, Luciano Berio, Astor Piazzolla, Elliott Carter or John Harbison, with occasional pieces from renowned clarinetist/saxophonist/composer Paquito D’Rivera and jazz great Wayne Shorter.
The ensemble has performed in major concerts at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Disney Hall and Kimmel Center, and in premier chamber music series in Boston, San Francisco, Portland, Philadelphia and New York. Festival performances include Chamber Music Northwest, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society, Virginia Arts Festival, Bravo! Colorado and Ravinia Festival. The current season features several international tours for Imani Winds, with debut appearances in France, China and Brazil.
In 2008 the group established the Legacy Commissioning Project, in which they have commissioned and performed premieres of new works, written by established and emerging composers of diverse musical backgrounds. The project began with premieres by Alvin Singleton and Roberto Sierra. Since then, projects have included works by Jason Moran, Stefon Harris, Danilo Perez and Simon Shaheen.
Through commissions and performance the ensemble has also worked with luminaries such as bandoneonist Daniel Binelli, the Brubeck brothers, clarinetist David Shifrin, and pianists Gilbert Kalish and Shai Wosner. Their ambitious project, “Josephine Baker: A Life of Le Jazz Hot!” brought chanteuse René Marie with them to New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and St. Louis, receiving wide acclaim and glowing reviews.
The group has been recognized with numerous awards, including the 2007 American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Award, 2002 Chamber Music America (CMA)/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, as well as the CMA/WQXR Award for their debut and self-released recording “Umoja.” At the 2001 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, Imani Winds was selected as the first-ever educational residency ensemble, in recognition of its members’ tremendous musical abilities and innovative programming.
Imani Winds’ commitment to education runs deep. The group participates in residencies throughout the U.S., giving master classes to thousands of students a year. In the summer of 2010, the ensemble launched its annual Chamber Music Festival. The program, presented at New York’s Juilliard School, brings together young instrumentalists from across North America for an intense week of music exploration.
Doors for the event will open at 6 p.m. and tickets are not required. For more information, contact University College at 919-530-6932.