Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Imani Winds plans to blow the roof off

Quintet makes tradition modern

Express Staff Writer

The Imani Winds quintet play the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum on Sunday, Feb. 24. Photo by Merri Cyr

The Imani Winds quintet combines European, African, Latin American and American music traditions to present a concert diverse in culture and talent with original works ranging from Mendelssohn to Josephine Baker. The bold and inspiring Imani Winds is presented by the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and will perform on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 7:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum. Tickets are $25 for members, $30 for non-members and $5 for children 12 and under.

"They're capable of great technical virtuosity—their renderings of Ravel have an astonishing agility and clarity," said Dan Mankin, director of performing arts at The Center. "But classical is only the beginning of what they do, and there's nothing delicate about their sound. They describe themselves as classical with a twist. That twist might be a little tango, some mambo, a pinch of St. Louis blues or a heaping handful of New Orleans jazz."

The Grammy-nominated Imani Winds have all the makings of a traditional classical quintet and then some. Each member has a long list of accomplishments to match. Kentucky native, flutist and composer Valerie Coleman began her music studies at the age of 11 and by 14 had written three symphonies and won several local and state competitions.

Playing clarinet, Mariam Adam is a native of Monterey, Calif., and has become an internationally distinguished clarinetist and chamber musician. She was one of the last students of legendary clarinetist Rosario Mazzeo, and developed a colorful career on the West Coast, appearing with the Sacramento Symphony, Monterey County Symphony and several others while still an undergraduate.

A native of Queens, N.Y., Jeff Scott has been playing French horn since the age of 14 and received a scholarship to attend the Brooklyn College Preparatory Division. His greatest influence came from his first teacher, Carolyn Clark, who taught the young Mr. Scott for free, giving him the opportunity to study music when resources were not available.

Bassoonist Monica Ellis is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., and began her musical studies at the age of 4 with her father, who was a jazz saxophonist.

Toyin Spellman-Diaz, a world-class oboist, is an orchestral musician who has performed in the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Chicago Civic Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic and Orchestra of St. Lukes. She has worked with conductors such as Kurt Masur, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Christoph Eschenbach and Mstislav Rostropovitch.

Forming in 1997, Imani Winds wanted to change the face of classical music and show young people of color that there's a place for them in all of the arts. In Ketchum, the quintet will include works from its latest album, which is a tribute to Josephine Baker.

The Imani Winds celebrates its 10th anniversary and is working on its Legacy Commissioning Project; over the next five years it will commission work by ten composers from an array of musical disciplines.

The project will commence with world premieres by Alvin Singleton and Roberto Sierra, commissioned by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest and Stanford Lively Arts.

For more information about the Imani Winds performance and tickets, call 726-9491 ext. 16.

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