Grammy-nominated wind quintet Imani Winds makes its New Zealand debut with a national tour as the final concert in Chamber Music New Zealand’s Kaleidoscopes 2017 Season.
Imani (‘faith’ in Swahili) Winds began in 1997 when flutist Valerie Coleman, decided to create an ensemble bringing together some of the top African-American woodwind players around.
Oboeist Toyin Spellman-Diaz said the relevance of classical music is under-represented in people’s thoughts today and “especially newly-made contemporary classical music. For Imani Winds it doesn’t matter whether the music was written by composers who lived 50 years ago or composers who wrote their music 50 days ago; all music has a purpose. Music without words can be even more universally meaningful than music with lyrics because the meaning is up for interpretation.
Imani Winds will perform two programmes on the tour, both including a new Chamber Music New Zealand commission by New Zealand composer Natalie Hunt, Snapshots along with what bassoonist Monica Ellis describes as Imani Winds’ “greatest hits”. “We are fortunate enough to have two composers in the ensemble and their original and arranged works have been in our repertoire for many years,” she said.
The programme for the Hamilton, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin concerts also includes Imani Winds’ arrangement of famed orchestral classic, Scheherazade, which Ellis said “works wonderfully for wind quintet. And we’ll perform pieces by our friend and musical icon, Paquito D’Rivera – bringing a bit of Cuban, Latin jazz to New Zealand”.
Both programmes in New Zealand feature arrangements by Imani Winds’ French horn player Jeff Scott. Scott has worked on major musical productions including The Lion King on Broadway for eight years, and played jazz with Wynton Marsalis.
He said he sees a place for jazz and other American popular music on the classical concert stage. “It’s the challenge for the 21st century musician to train for the flexibility and sensibility in these genres alongside the traditional Western classical canon. While jazz and popular styles do not make it into every composition or arrangement I write, the colours remain as options amongst the spectrum of choices at any point of the process.”