GRAMMY-nominated ensemble brings expertise in chamber music programming, community engagement, and career development
PHILADELPHIA—June 2, 2021—The Curtis Institute of Music welcomes the internationally acclaimed Imani Winds to its faculty. Noted for its commissioning activity, socially-conscious programming, and commitment to equity, the ensemble will further enhance the world-class chamber music training available to all of Curtis’s 150 students as the school’s first-ever faculty wind quintet.
Prior to this appointment, Imani Winds participated in residency activities at Curtis and its members served as faculty for the school’s summer education programs. The five musicians—Brandon Patrick George, flute; Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboe; Mark Dover, clarinet; Kevin Newton, horn; and Monica Ellis, bassoon—will join an illustrious roster of wind faculty, including principal players of the Philadelphia Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. As an active chamber ensemble, Imani Winds will provide expertise in the particular facets of a quintet career to Curtis’s wind studios, which have produced some of the most in-demand orchestral musicians in the country.
“I am thrilled to welcome Imani Winds to our faculty,” says President and CEO Roberto Díaz. “Curtis has long been associated with excellence in orchestral training, but we also want to ensure that we’re offering our students access to the broadest possible range of artistic influence. Imani Winds has set a great example of how to forge a unique career path, have meaningful community impact, and embody an entrepreneurial spirit throughout all of their work. We will all benefit greatly from having Imani Winds at Curtis.”
“We are honored to become a part of the Curtis Institute of Music as the faculty wind quintet starting in the 2021–22 school year,” say members of Imani Winds. “Curtis is making a concerted effort to empower their students to think creatively as performers and to lead through service to the world beyond the walls of the concert hall. Imani Winds will be a part of directing this invigorating and inspiring process.”
As members of the chamber music faculty, Imani Winds will coach and mentor student ensembles, sharing their collective experience as a leading chamber ensemble. Their impact will also be felt throughout the school as Imani Winds demonstrate their commitment to commissioning, the importance of working meaningfully with community partners, and the opportunities for forging unique career paths. In balance with these activities at Curtis, Imani Winds will maintain a robust international performance and recording career, continuing to appear regularly on leading presenting series, expanding the repertoire, and helping to build audiences for chamber music worldwide.
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.
As a 21st-century ensemble, Imani Winds embraces traditional chamber music and 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. Performances in the 2020–21 season and beyond include a composition by Jessie Montgomery inspired by her great-grandfather’s migration from the American south to the north, as well as 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 concert venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Touring activities have taken the group to Brazil, Australia, England, New Zealand, and additional locations across Europe and Asia. Festival appearances include those with Chamber Music Northwest, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Ravinia Festival, the Chautauqua Institution, the Banff Centre, and Music from Angel Fire.
The ensemble’s collaborations in the jazz world include those with Wayne Shorter, Paquito D’Rivera, and Jason Moran, and René Marie
Imani Winds participates in residencies and master classes throughout the United States. Academic and institutional residencies include the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Duke University, the University of Chicago, the Curtis Institute of Music, the University of Michigan, and Da Camera of Houston.
The ensemble launched the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival in 2010. Festival participants explore and perform standard repertoire and newly-composed chamber music, and take part in workshops devoted to entrepreneurial and outreach opportunities.
In 2016 Imani Winds was honored with a permanent presence in the classical music section of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians to engage a local and global community through the highest level of artistry. For nearly a century Curtis has provided each member of its small student body with an unparalleled education alongside musical peers, distinguished by a “learn by doing” philosophy and personalized attention from a faculty that includes a high proportion of actively performing musicians. To ensure that admissions are based solely on artistic promise, Curtis makes an investment in each admitted student so that no tuition is charged for their studies. Curtis students hone their craft through more than 200 orchestra, opera, and solo and chamber music offerings each year in Philadelphia and around the world.
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