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IMANI WINDS has established itself as more than a wind quintet. Since 1997, the Grammy-nominated ensemble has taken a unique path, carving out a distinct presence in the classical music world with its dynamic playing, culturally poignant programming, genre-blurring collaborations, and inspirational outreach programs. With two member composers and a deep commitment to commissioning new work, the group is enriching the traditional wind quintet repertoire while bridging European, American, African, and Latin American traditions.
The group is in the midst of its Legacy Commissioning Project, an ambitious five-year endeavor launching Imani Winds into its second decade of music making. The ensemble is commissioning, premiering and touring ten new works for woodwind quintet that are written by established and emerging composers of various musical backgrounds. The select composers originate from different points of the globe, bringing experience not only in classical music, but jazz, Middle Eastern, Latin, and harder-to-define sounds. The Legacy Project kicked off in 2008 with world premieres by Alvin Singleton and Roberto Sierra. In the 2008/09 season, Jason Moran’s Cane will premiere at the Kimmel Center for the Arts in Philadelphia, followed by a performance at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall.
In the 2007/08 season, Imani Winds performed extensively with jazz composer, performer, and legend Wayne Shorter, culminating in a summer European tour of jazz festivals in Vienne (France), Lubeck (Germany), Kongsberg (Norway), Copenhagen (Denmark), Limerick (Ireland), and the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands. In the 2008/09 season, the group will play several engagements with the Shorter Quartet, including dates at Carnegie Hall, this performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and Is Sanat Art and Culture Centre in Istanbul.
The wide range of programs offered by Imani Winds demonstrates their mission to expand the wind quintet repertoire and diversify sources of new music. From Mendelssohn, Jean Françaix, György Ligeti, and Luciano Berio to Astor Piazzolla, Elliott Carter, and John Harbison; to the unexpected ranks of Paquito D’Rivera and Wayne Shorter, Imani Winds actively seek to engage new music and new voices into the modern classical idiom. Imani Winds members Valerie Coleman and Jeff Scott both regularly contribute compositions and arrangements to the ensemble’s expanding repertoire, bringing new sounds and textures to the traditional instrumentation.
Through commissions and performance the quintet regularly collaborates with other artists. Josephine Baker: A Life of Le Jazz Hot!, a collaboration with chanteuse René Marie and choreographer Christopher Huggins, has been performed in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, among other cities, to great acclaim. Imani Winds performed the world premiere of Terra Incognita, the first-ever commission for classical artists by Wayne Shorter, and have shared the stage with Yo-Yo Ma for a rousing performance of Jeff Scott’s arrangement of Piazzolla’s Libertango. In 2007 the ensemble collaborated with bassist/trombonist Chris Brubeck of the famed Brubeck family for a performance and recording of music written especially for wind quintet and jazz quartet (released by Koch in 2008). The group’s Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center residency culminated in a recital in New York’s Alice Tully Hall with renowned clarinetist/saxophonist/composer Paquito D’Rivera. The ensemble has also worked with luminaries such as bandoneónist Daniel Binelli, saxophonist Steve Coleman, clarinetist David Shifrin, and pianists Gilbert Kalish and Shai Wosner. Future collaborations include Stefon Harris and David Krakauer.
Imani Winds’ extensive touring schedule has brought them to the Herbst Theater for San Francisco Performances, Seattle’s Meany Hall, the University of Illinois’ Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Ensemble Music Society of Indianapolis, La Jolla Music Society, and the Virginia Arts Festival. Additionally, they have performed at Atlanta’s National Black Arts Festival, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Chicago Symphony Musicians Residency Program, the Ravinia Festival, the Kennedy Center, and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.
Imani Winds enjoy frequent national exposure in all forms of media, including two features on NPR’s All Things Considered, appearances on APM’s Saint Paul Sunday, NPR’s Performance Today and News and Notes with Ed Gordon, the Bob Edwards Show on XM Satellite Radio, BBC The World, and frequent coverage in major music magazines and newspapers.
Their excellence and influences have been recognized with numerous awards including the 2007 ASCAP Award, 2002 CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, as well as the CMA/WQXR Award for their debut and self-released CD Umoja. At the 2001 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, Imani Winds was selected as the first-ever Educational Residency Ensemble, in recognition of their tremendous musical abilities and innovative programming.
Imani Winds have four releases on Koch International Classics, including their 2006 Grammy Award nominated recording entitled The Classical Underground. Their most recent album, This Christmas, was released in October 2008.