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by Daniel Hathaway

Imani2Downsizing seems to be one of the buzz concepts of our era, but the ever-game-for-a-challenge Imani Winds took the idea to a new level of miniaturization on Sunday afternoon in Oberlin’s Finney Chapel, when that excellent woodwind quintet, performing on the Artist Recital Series, impressed the sox off a good-sized audience with their ear-boggling performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in an arrangement by Jonathan Russell.

Well, OK, not the whole piece, but Russell gives the quintet a good twenty-minutes worth of Stravinsky’s score redeployed for flute (and piccolo), oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon, and it worked. In her introduction, oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz noted that the audience would be able to hear inner details that had heretofore been “covered up by loud percussion and obnoxious brass — you know who you are!” she joked to the balconies where some of those blushing conservatory offenders were sure to be found. Read the rest of this entry »


by Daniel Hautzinger

Imani2It’s just badass,” said Imani Winds bassoonist Monica Ellis about Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, which Imani will perform on February 9 in Oberlin’s Finney Chapel as part of the ensemble’s concert on the Artist Recital Series. “It’s this huge iconic piece that’s been pared down to a quintet, which is crazy in and of itself. Behind all that is this crazy cool rhythmic action, melodic action.”

All that “crazy cool rhythmic action” is one thing that connects The Rite of Spring to much of Imani’s repertoire. In addition to Ellis, the quintet consists of oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz, clarinetist Mariam Adam, flutist Valerie Coleman, and French hornist Jeff Scott. They often perform works from outside the traditional classical repertoire, especially focusing on African-American and Latin composers. “We’re attracted to this music because it’s close to us, it has soulful qualities, it’s ‘jazzy.’ It has a story behind it. Things that have a backbeat, a driving rhythm, are fun to play.”

Sunday’s concert program is in some ways an overview of Imani’s repertoire. Read the rest of this entry »

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