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Imani Winds join forces with Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra

Brian Doxtader | Sunday, November 6, 2005

A unique and invigorating blend of African, European and American music will be featured on Friday, as a professional wind quintet joins the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra onstage in the Leighton Concert Hall.

The Imani Winds, a young group of touring and recording musicians, will be featured in a collaborative concert with the student musicians of the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra. The two groups will play together, covering both classical pieces and Imani Winds-originals.

The Imani Winds are a quintet featuring Valerie Coleman (flute), Toyin Spellman (oboe), Mariam Adam (clarinet), Jeff Scott (French horn) and Monica Ellis (bassoon). Known for their dynamic playing and innovative programming, the quintet has already garnered attention and exposure, including performances on NPR and the festival circuit. They have toured extensively, both at the college-level and at festivals, and have already performed at several noteworthy festivals this year, including the Florida International Festival, the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival and the Oregon Bach Festival.

Musically, the quintet is far more adventurous than the average classical group. Seeking to tie together the seemingly disparate styles of European, African and American music traditions, their repertoire is more diverse than most. Featuring works by such distinctly different composers as Dvorak, Schubert and Gershwin, the Imani Winds uniquely invigorating musicality links the eclecticism together. Additionally, their concerts often feature self-penned compositions like flutist Valerie Coleman’s “Afro-Cuban Concert for Wind Quintet and Orchestra.”

The Imani Winds formed in 1997 and released their first recording, “Umoja,” in 2002 and have recently released their major-label debut. “The Classical Underground” (available from KOCH International Classics) features both original compositions and interpretations of traditional pieces. The energetic performances and impressive musicality heard onstage is featured on both recordings, which can be obtained at the group’s Web site, www.imaniwinds.com.

In addition to their touring and recording, the quintet is extremely active in the community, as they have taken time to participate in many residency and community outreach programs. Through these programs, the Imani Winds seek to educate on both African Diaspora and Western classical traditions in a classroom setting.

The Imani Winds will be featured in conjunction with the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra. The Symphony Orchestra is an organization of student musicians and is under the direction of Daniel Stowe. Tomorrow will mark the first time the two groups have played together.

Tickets are available from the DPAC Box Office and are $3 for students, $4 for seniors, $5 for staff/faculty and $6 for the general public. The concert is on Friday at 9 p.m. in the Leighton Music Hall, located in the DPAC.