Quintessential Winds - May 5, 2008

Settlement Music School, Philadelphia


Vincent Persichetti - Pastorale


Malcolm Arnold - Three Shanties


Valerie Coleman - Spirituals


Harold Shapero - Six for Five (2. Song, 3. Dance)


Eric Ewazen - Roaring Fork - "Whitewater Rapids (Maroon Creek)"

NOTE: If the Flash Player does not work, try the hyperlinked track names below it. 

Terry Seligmann, flute

Laura Redman, oboe

Julia Fickes, bassoon

Lindsey Keck, horn

Bob Blacksberg, clarinet


Vincent Persichetti (1915-1987) Pastorale

Vincent Persichetti, a Philadelphia native, was a major figure in twentieth century American music, both as a teacher and a composer.  He served as professor of composition at Philadelphia Conservatory and later at the Julliard School in Manhattan. He taught composition to conductor James DePreist at the Philadelphia Conservatory.  His students at the Juilliard School included Philip Glass, Hall Overton, Karl Korte, Michael Jeffrey Shapiro, Larry Thomas Bell, Richard Danielpour and Thelonious Monk to name a few.

Persichetti was an accomplished pianist as well as composer.  His works include those written for orchestra, band, chorus, piano and other individual instruments.  Unlike many composers who restrict themselves to heavier and technically difficult compositions, Persichetti wrote many pieces suitable for less mature performers, considering them to have serious artistic merit as well.   Persichetti's musical style is marked by two compelling elements he refers to as "graceful" and "gritty:" the former being more lyrical and melodic, the latter being sharp and intensely rhythmic.   

Pastorale for wind quintet portrays an idealized country life. The piece depicts an intrinsic simplicity and calmness spun from a single theme which is first heard in the flute and clarinet.  The theme is transformed through a variety of rhythmic meter, mood and tempos.  

Sir Malcolm Arnold  CBE (1921-2006) Three Shanties

Born in Northampton in 1921, Malcolm Arnold is one of the towering figures of the 20th century, with a remarkable catalogue of major concert works to his credit, including nine symphonies, seven ballets, two operas, one musical, over twenty concertos, two string quartets, and music for brass-band and wind-band. He also wrote132 film scores, among these are some of the finest works ever composed for the medium including Bridge on the River Kwai (for which, in 1958, he was one of the first British composers ever to win an Oscar), Inn of the Sixth Happiness (for which he received an Ivor Novello Award in 1958), Hobson’s Choice and Whistle Down the Wind.

'Three Shanties for Wind Quintet' Op.4 (1943) are the most popular of Arnold's chamber output. They were originally designed for the amusement of the composer's colleagues in the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Cunningly scored for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn & Bassoon, these three 'bagatelles' exhibit all the characteristics of exuberance, inventiveness and sheer technical competence that we have come to expect from Sir Malcolm. We must never forget that he was a former instrumentalist himself. Famous tunes abound in various guises. 'What shall we do with the Drunken Sailor,' 'Boney was a Warrior' and 'Johnny came down to Hilo.' The tunes are not repeated and repeated again louder (à la Constant Lambert) but are subject to all kinds of variation and distortions. There is an ongoing shift of moods and timbres and this was reflected in the playing. In many ways this early Arnold is the 'type' for much of his 'popular' repertoire that was to infuriate and entrance so many people. In the last movement the humor does come through; and certainly evokes a smile. 

Harold Shapero (1920 – present) Six for Five

Born in 1920, Harold Shapero has lived most of his life in the Boston area, graduating from Harvard University in 1941. Shapero has studied composition with Nicolas Slonimsky (1936), Ernst Krenek (1937), Walter Piston (1938), Paul Hindemith (1940), and Nadia Boulanger (1942). He was composer-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome in  1970. As a composer, he has earned the Rome Prize, the Bearns Prize, a Naumburg Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and a Fulbright Fellowship. A fine pianist, he has given premieres of most of his keyboard and chamber works. Mr. Shapero has received commissions from the Koussevitsky Foundation, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the American Jewish Tercentenary, the Louisville Symphony Orchestra, the Ford Foundation, and George Balanchine and  the New York City Ballet Company. A recent revival of his Symphony for Classical Orchestra by conductor André Previn has led to performances of this work by the Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, and London Symphony Orchestras. For more than thirty years Shapero served on the music faculty at Brandeis University, directing its Electronic Music Studio and teaching theory and composition. Currently retired, he lives in Natick, Massachusetts.

The piece now known as Six for Five was originally a duet written as a holiday gift in response to a long-standing, joking, challenge that Shapero write a duet for flute and trombone, the instruments played by his niece, our flutist Terry, and her  trombonist former spouse. The duet was entitled All in the Family and the middle four movements were named for the members of Terry’s family.  The duet was recorded by Boston Symphony Orchestra trombonist Ron Barron on a CD of that title.  Shapero later rescored the work for woodwind quintet and removed the family references.  Tonight we play two of the movements, originally entitled “Jenny’s Song” and “Robbie’s Dance.”  

Valerie Coleman (1970 – present) Spirituals

Born (1970) in Louisville, Kentucky, Valerie Coleman began her music studies at the late age of eleven. By the age of fourteen, she had already written three full-length symphonies. Today, Coleman is the resident composer and founder of Imani Winds, making significant contributions to the world of chamber music.  As a performer she is a rising voice in the flute world.

She won Meet The Composer's 2003 Edward and Sally Van Lier Memorial Fund Award, which enabled her to have a Carnegie Hall debut recital. Later in the season, the Afro-Cuban Concerto for Wind Quintet and Orchestra was premiered with The New Haven Symphony, under the baton of Jung-Ho Pak. Valerie Coleman resides in New York with her husband Jonathan Page, and she is on the faculty of The Juilliard School Music Advancement Program.

Spirituals assembles arrangements of Little David Play on Your Harp, Steal Away and Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit. With these and her other works, V Coleman and the Imani Winds have brought a fresh and exciting sound to the wind quintet literature. In a deep and indeed "spiritual" way, they remind us that as wind players, we always sing with our instruments. These excerpts from lyrics evoke each of the songs:

From the composer's notes:

Little David Play on Your HarpAn old Mississippi feel. This rendition should be played as if the musicians are telling a mischievous tall tale from the South.

Steal AwayThis arrangement was created upon the news of Gregory Hines passing a few years ago. The groove between bassoon and horn gives the imagery of Mr. Hines casually walking off the stage in a reminiscent way.

Ev'ry Time I Feel the SpiritThis is a good ol' hand-clapping, upbeat, but off-beat arrangement of the spiritual. 

Eric Ewazen (1954 – present) Roaring Fork

Eric Ewazen was born in 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio.  He studied composition with Samuel Adler, Milton Babbitt, Warren Benson, Gunther Schuller, and Joseph Schwantner at the Eastman School of Music, Tanglewood and the Julliard School.  He has been a member of the faculty at Julliard since 1980. 

Roaring Fork Quintet for Wind Instruments was commissioned by and is dedicated to the Borealis Wind Quintet, who premiered the work during their tour of the United States in the winter of 1993-94.  The valet of the Roaring Fork River in Colorado is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the Rocky Mountains.  The first movement, “Whitewater Rapids (Maroon Creek)”, with bright, high melodic lines, ever changing colors and rhythmic every, depicts the lush, rich sounds of Maroon Creek’s flowing rapids.