S2. EP.9 Founded on Representation: Imani Winds
December 29, 2021
Monica Ellis from Imani Winds joins the Soundweavers team to chat about their ensemble's origin and the gradual development of their mission over their first several years. She shared about Imani's really interesting experience with having "in-house" composers in the ensemble. We chat about the evolution of their recording process and how they have sought out new ensemble members. And, we speak about the ensemble's new gig as faculty members at the Curtis Institute of Music.
Celebrating over two decades of music making, the Grammy nominated Imani Winds has led both a revolution and evolution of the wind quintet through their dynamic playing, adventurous programming, imaginative collaborations and outreach endeavors that have inspired audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
The ensemble’s playlist embraces traditional chamber music repertoire, and as a 21st century group, Imani Winds is devoutly committed to expanding the wind quintet repertoire by commissioning music from new voices that reflect historical events and the times in which we currently live.
Present and future season performances include a Jessie Montgomery composition inspired by her great-grandfather’s migration from the American south to the north, as well as socially conscious music by Andy Akiho, designed to be performed both on the concert stage and in front of immigrant detention centers throughout the country.
Imani Winds regularly performs in prominent international concert venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Walt Disney Hall and the Kimmel Center. Their touring schedule has taken them throughout the Asian continent, Brazil, Australia, England, New Zealand and across Europe. Their national and international presence include performances at chamber music series in Boston, New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Philadelphia and Houston. Festival performances include Chamber Music Northwest, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Ravinia Festival, Chautauqua, Banff Centre and Angel Fire.
Imani Winds’ travels through the jazz world are highlighted by their association with saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter, woodwind artist and composer Paquito D’Rivera and pianist and composer Jason Moran. Their ambitious project, "Josephine Baker: A Life of Le Jazz Hot!" featured chanteuse René Marie in performances that brought the house down in New York, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Los Angeles and St. Louis.
Imani Winds’ commitment to education runs deep. The group participates in residencies throughout the U.S., giving performances and master classes to thousands of students each year. Academic and institutional residencies include the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Duke University, the University of Chicago, Curtis Institute of Music, the University of Michigan, Da Camera of Houston and numerous others across the country.
The ensemble launched its annual Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival in 2010, bringing together young instrumentalists and composers from across North America and abroad for exploration and performance of the standard repertoire and newly composed chamber music. Festival participants also take part in workshops devoted to entrepreneurial and outreach opportunities, with the goal of creating the complete musician and global citizen.
In 2021, Imani Winds released their latest album, Bruits on Bright Shiny Things Records. Gramophone states, “the ensemble’s hot rapport churns with conviction throughout…”
Imani Winds has six albums on Koch International Classics and E1 Music, including their Grammy Award nominated recording, The Classical Underground. They have also recorded for Naxos and Blue Note and released Stravinsky’s "Rite of Spring" on Warner Classics. Imani Winds is regularly heard on all media platforms including NPR, American Public Media, the BBC, SiriusXM, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
In 2016, Imani Winds received their greatest accolade in their 20 years of music making: a permanent presence in the classical music section of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC.
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