The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. in Watson Hall on the campus, 1533 S. Main St. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for non-UNCSA students with valid ID online or by calling the box office at 336-721-1945. You can also register for the free livestream online.
Celebrating their 27th season of music making Imani Winds has led both a revolution and evolution of the wind quintet through their dynamic playing, adventurous programming, imaginative collaborations and outreach endeavors that have inspired audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
Historically, the group has performed music by underrepresented composers. The Oct. 3 program, “Black and Brown 2,” is their second exclusively comprising music by composers of color. It will include “Giants” by Carlos Simon, “I Said What I Said” by Damien Geter, “Kites” by Paquito D'Rivera, “Terra Incognita” by Wayne Shorter, “BeLoud, BeLoved, BeLonging” by Andy Akiho, and “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” by Billy Taylor, arranged by Mark Dover.
Kevin Newton is the newest member of Imani Winds. A native of South Boston, Virginia, he is a French horn player and educator based in Manhattan.
“Damien Geter, who wrote ‘I Said What I Said’ for us, is an amazing operatic singer and composer of opera, and has worked with some of the great opera companies in the country,” Newton said. Imani Winds debuted the piece last year.
“In the aftermath of George Floyd, the phrase ‘I said what I said’ is used to express frustration and annoyance at not being heard or being asked for unnecessary clarification,” Newton explained. “The piece is built on a theme and variation – finding new ways to say the same thing over and over in different ways. It’s very appropriate. It’s part of a much larger conversation about how Black people are treated in this country.”
Simon’s “Giants” is another new composition that premiered last year. It’s an homage to great women and men of color, such as poet Maya Angelou, astronaut Ronald McNair, “Empress of the Blues” Bessie Smith, and iconic pianist Herbie Hancock, Newton said.
D’Rivera’s “Kites” features music with Latin American roots. “Paquito D'Rivera really is a shining star in the world of wind writing,” Newton said. “He’s a great clarinetist and saxophonist, well-versed in classical and jazz. He incorporates his Cuban upbringing into his music, and we are very thankful for his relationship with Imani.”
“Terra Incognita,” which translates to “Unknown Land,” was the first piece legendary jazz saxophonist, composer and bandleader Wayne Shorter ever wrote for another ensemble.
“At the time of Imani’s inception, all of the original members got to tour with Wayne Shorter,” Newton said. “He wrote ‘Terra Incognita’ for them, and they played it in every concert on the tour.”
Unlike a lot of jazz, “Terra Incognita” is through-composed, Newton explained. That means that all the notes are written on the musical tablature, and there is very little of the improvisation common to jazz.
“Sadly, Wayne Shorter died in March,” Newton said. “Imani is bringing this piece back into the repertoire.”
Imani’s foundation includes the Legacy Commissioning Project, which engages composers of color to create works for wind quintets. It commissioned Andy Akiho’s “BeLoud, BeLoved, BeLonging.”
The group members knew Akiho and were inspired by his social justice work in the country’s carceral system.
Akiho, of Japanese descent, is a composer versed in steel pan, classical music, contemporary classical music, steel drum, orchestra, string quartet, percussion, and more.
“There was a protest at the Brooklyn detention center in February in New York with no heat and everybody banging on bars,” Newton said. “We were inspired by this act of defiance. Akiho’s piece evolved from this into a piece about evils of incarceration, then the focus grew to include young men awaiting trial at Riker’s Island.
“Andy worked with them to create interlocking rhythms. It serves as a beautiful capsule for those young men, their hopes, and their fears. We hope it serves as a beautiful monument to them. It’s melodic and rhythmic. He picked chords and set pitches – it’s also through-composed.” The piece had its debut at Riker’s Island.
Mark Dover is Imani’s clarinet player. He made the new arrangement of Billy Taylor’s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” that premiered at Carnegie Hall last year.
“It’s the first thing that Mark Dover has arranged for the group,” Newton said. “And it is special. He did a deep dive into the tradition of Black gospel in the U.S. and really synthesized what he found into this arrangement, and it’s a perfect way to end the program.
“I’m especially proud to bring it because it’s the music tradition that I grew up in. It’s important for me to bring that music to where it belongs and to note where it comes from. We’ll leave people feeling good and uplifted and seeing more of themselves in a space where maybe they would not expect to,” Newton concluded.
As a chamber musician, Newton has performed with Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Metropolitan Horn Authority, Roomful of Teeth, and Tredici Bacci, among other ensembles. He has appeared professionally on the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, and National Sawdust.
Newton joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 2021. He is also on the horn faculty of Manhattan School of Music’s Precollege division and Manhattan School of Music Summer.
Brandon Patrick George
Brandon Patrick George has been the flutist of Imani Winds since 2018 and has appeared with the group around the United States and Europe, and on the Grammy-nominated album “Bruits.” He has been praised as “elegant” by The New York Times, as a “virtuoso” by The Washington Post, and as a “knockout musician with a gorgeous sound” by The Philadelphia Inquirer. His debut album was released by Haenssler Classics in September 2020; The New York Times has described it as “a program that showcases the flute in all its wit, warmth and brilliance.”
Oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz grew up surrounded by her parent’s enormous record collection in Washington, D.C. It was there she absorbed the many layers of classical music’s beauty and the inspiring and uniting potential of the world’s diverse cultural landscape. Spellman-Diaz earned her Bachelor of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and her master’s and Professional Studies degree at the Manhattan School of Music. Her orchestral career includes performances with the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Civic Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
Grammy-nominated clarinetist Mark Dover is a man of many horns, maintaining firm roots in classical music while ever expanding into the vast world of improvised music. Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Dover grew up in a town with a strong commitment to arts education, and with parents who were passionate about the arts. In addition to performing with Imani Winds, Dover is the clarinetist with Manhattan Chamber Players, whom he tours with regularly. He has performed with the Detroit Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra at Kent Blossom Music Festival, The Knights, Nu Deco Ensemble, New World Symphony, the Spoleto Festival, Pacific Music Festival, and many other orchestras and festivals throughout the country.
Bassoonist Monica Ellis is a founding member of the twice Grammy-nominated wind quintet Imani Winds, who for over a quarter century has dazzled audiences with their dynamic playing; adventurous programming; and commitment to outreach, new works and collaborations. Imani Winds was nominated for a second Grammy Award for its ninth studio recording entitled “Bruits.” As the daughter of a jazz saxophonist father and fashionista mother, she was raised in a house full of go-getters. A natural organizer, Ellis is the co-artistic and executive director for Imani Winds and their annual Chamber Music Festival and treasurer for their nonprofit Foundation.
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September 25, 2023