Imani Winds ensemble gives audience a multicultural lesson

Will Kotheimer

At one point during the Imani Winds quintet’s performance Monday night, the audience was prompted to snap along to the beat of a piece called “Red Clay Mississippi Delta” which has no words, but instead is musically about growing up in the South.

The quintet, comprised of clarinet, flute, bassoon, oboe, and French horn, combines elements of jazz, classical and other world music, and incorporates elements of many eras of musical history in its performances.

Bassoon player Monica Ellis said they like to “celebrate” the different cultures through music.

“We definitely try to give the audience a wide range of sounds, styles and periods of music,” Ellis said.

John Long, a retired WKU professor, said the group’s technical abilities were well coordinated.

“Sometimes it’s like just one instrument playing,” he said.

Brandenburg sophomore Jessica Padgett said she came because she’s taking a music appreciation class.

“I like how laid back they are, and how they involve the audience,” she said. I also like how everything is kept upbeat and fast.”

During the performance, some members punctuated their music by reciting poetry, giving the audience a glimpse into the stories of the music.

Valerie Coleman, the flutist and founder of the group, said the piece “Kites over Havana” was composed by a man who cannot go back to his native Cuba.

“The soaring lines we play are intended to represent the bittersweet nature of his memory,” Coleman said.

During one such line in the music, the musicians spoke the lyrics to represent what a kite flying above Cuba might say:”When once you have tested light, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward. For there you have been and there you will always long to return.”

Imani Winds album “Classical Underground” was nominated for a grammy in 2006, for best classical crossover album, and NPR called the group’s 2010 album “Terra Incognita” one of the five best classical music albums of 2010, according to the group’s website.

The event was part of the Cultural Enhancement series.