Julie Amacher, Classical MPR
Imani Winds — Bruits (Bright Shiny Things)
"Imani is one of the seven principles of Kwanza, and it means 'faith,'" says clarinetist Mark Dover, who joined Imani Winds in 2016. "One of the greatest tenets to chamber music is faith and believing in the energy that exists between us when we're on stage, trusting each other, taking risks with each other."
Founding flutist Valerie Coleman came up with the name for this quintet before she even formed the group more than two decades ago. Today, Imani Winds continues to bring an important voice to the world of classical music. Dover and bassoonist Monica Ellis share their experiences about their latest project, Bruits.
Monica, what does it mean to be a founding member of Imani Winds?
"It really means everything. It's turned into my life's work for the past 24 years. It means a legacy, and it means, frankly, Black excellence. It means the ability to share our joys and what we think is important in the world of classical music. It means inspiration to a whole new generation, because we've been doing this so long."
Could you describe and explain the title?
Monica: "It's a medical term, and it is the sound that blood makes as it's flowing through the body if something's wrong. It's some sort of blockage sort of sound. When the doctor's hear that, then the blood is not flowing properly."
What about the title piece, which Vijay Iyer composed?
Monica: "The inspiration for the piece was surrounding the murder of Trayvon Martin. That's kind of the most shocking movement, in a way. The second movement of the piece are words from the stand-your-ground law from Florida.
"The first movement opens with ethereal music that's completely instrumental between the wind quintet and the piano. It's very textural, very ethereal. Then all of a sudden, in the second movement, you hear the instruments playing sounds, not notes, but making noises on our instruments in this percussive hocketing type way. Over that sound, you hear us speaking this case law."
Describe Reena Esmail's The Light Is the Same.
Mark: "The piece is actually based on two rags, which are kind of like a scale or mode. Her idea behind the piece is based on these words that she came across from the Sufi mystic poet Rumi. 'Religions are many, but God is one. The lamps may be different, but the light is the same.' So those two rags that she's using are a metaphor to that concept."
Tell me about John Hope Franklin, who is the subject of Frederick Rzewski's piece Sometimes.
Monica: John Hope Franklin was an African-American historian and scholar. Fred really wanted to incorporate his actual words in the piece. I ended up getting quite close with his son, John Whitington Franklin, and so he speaks the words of his father in that first movement."
To hear the rest of my conversation, download the extended podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.