Friends of Chamber Music concert: Imani Winds ready for fun, to break musical drought

2014-02-18T00:00:00Z 2014-02-19T10:23:26Z Friends of Chamber Music concert: Imani Winds ready for fun, to break musical droughtBy Cathalena E. Burch Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Arizona Friends of Chamber Music is hosting a wind quintet in concert on Wednesday, something it hasn’t done in more than 25 years.

And that strikes oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz as a bit, well, crazy.

“That’s amazing,” she said Monday afternoon as she and members of her New York-based Imani Winds quintet drove a minivan from Phoenix to Flagstaff. They had a concert Monday night in Flagstaff before Tucson’s show Wednesday’s at Leo Rich Theatre with pianist Anne-Marie McDermott

“What an honor, a real honor” to be the quintet that breaks that long drought, she said. “Anybody who comes to the concert is going to have fun. We have a lot of fun together, on and off stage, so we bring a lot of that fun, too.”

This will be Imani Winds’ first Tucson concert and only its third Arizona concert after Monday’s show in Flagstaff. It comes here with a program that includes works by Mozart, Hindemith and Poulenc as well as a piece by Imani founder and flutist Valerie Coleman..

All five members knew each other as graduate students in 1997 when Coleman, who was finishing up, decided she needed to create her own opportunities.

“She was looking for musicians of color and … right from the beginning, we all got along pretty well. It was magic,” Spellman-Diaz said.

Other members include French-horn player Jeff Scott, clarinetist Mariam Adam and bassoonist Monica Ellis

Both Ellis and Coleman on Monday were traveling with their 3-month-old babies.

“Yeah, you heard that right. They gave birth 12 days apart,” said Spellman-Diaz, whose 4-year-old daughter was also tagging along. “That’s what touring musician women do — they bring their kids with them.”

Spellman-Diaz said the quintet’s relationship goes much deeper than music. “We are basically family,” she explained.

But it is the music that binds them. They have combed through existing repertoire in search of the best representation of the wind-quintet genre.

“The music that we’ll play is music we all believe in and think is worthy of any concertgoer from age 5 to age 105,” she explained. “The music is played with passion and belief. That makes a really big difference in a concert. ... People think that classical music isn’t dangerous. I think part of that is (because) it’s not done with enough heart.”

Contact Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@azstarnet.com or 573-4642.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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