Imani Winds, an internationally touring wind quintet noted for dynamic performances, adventurous collaborations, inspirational outreach programs and a strong commitment to commissioning new works, has been appointed the Don Michael Randel Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Chicago for 2016-17 and 2017-18, announced Deputy Provost for the Arts Bill Brown. The group succeeds the Pacifica Quartet, which served as resident ensemble at the University for 17 years.
Imani Winds will have a strong presence across the UChicago community throughout each school year of their residency. They will work with undergraduate students and graduate student composers; interact with the University Symphony Orchestra and other ensembles, offering master classes, workshops and coaching; and perform school matinees and family concerts through the University’s Arts + Public Life initiative. Additionally, they will give public performances under the auspices of UChicago Presents.
“The University is delighted and honored to welcome the superb Imani Winds as the Don Michael Randel Ensemble in Residence,” said Anne W. Robertson, the Claire Dux Swift Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Music. “We look forward to working with these dynamic players in the next two seasons and to presenting them in their adventurous and culturally fascinating programs.”
The Imani Winds has distinguished itself by enriching the traditional wind quintet repertoire while meaningfully bridging European, American, African and Latin American traditions. Their repertoire includes works by Mendelssohn, Jean Francaix, Gyorgy Ligeti, Elliott Carter and John Harbison, as well as Paquito D’Rivera, Mohammed Fairouz and two of the quintet’s own members.
Imani Winds has collaborated with classical and jazz legends such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, clarinetist David Shifrin and pianist Gil Kalish, Wayne Shorter, the Brubeck brothers, Jason Moran and Rene Marie. Their commitment to education runs deep, with the group participating in numerous residencies throughout the United States and fostering its own chamber music festival for young instrumentalists.
"Imani Winds is thrilled to be the Don Michael Randel Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Chicago,” said Imani Winds bassoonist Monica Ellis. “World-class musicians and artists are presented on the University's stages every year, and we're honored to be in that lineup for the 2016-17 season. We're looking forward to exciting music making, meaningful collaborations with the students and being a part of the wider community that the University serves."
The residency was established with a gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to honor its departing president, Don Michael Randel, when he retired from the foundation in 2013. Randel, a noted musicologist, was the 12th president of the University of Chicago and is an emeritus faculty member in the Department of Music. The grant provides a permanent home for world-class musicians and allows for deep engagement between musicians and UChicago faculty, students and staff.
The program supports an ensemble for up to three years. Through its relatively frequent rotation, the residency allows the University community to benefit from a variety of ensembles with their differing instrumentations and approaches to genre and repertoire. The Pacifica Quartet was named the first Don Michael Randel ensemble in 2013.
The Pacifica Quartet’s career has grown significantly since they first came to teach at UChicago. Now recognized as one of the world’s finest string quartets, they tour regularly across Europe and Japan, as well as serving as quartet-in-residence and full-time faculty members at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.
“For almost two decades, the University has been enriched by the presence of the Pacifica Quartet. Both singly and as a group, these outstanding musicians have elevated the level of music making on campus. All the while, they have offered rich and memorable interpretations of the vast quartet repertory in their outstanding concerts with University of Chicago Presents and as resident artists with Contempo. We shall miss them greatly,” Robertson said.
Masumi Per Rostad of the Pacifica Quartet expressed the ensemble’s gratitude for their 17 years at UChicago. “We have had the pleasure of giving hundreds of performances of old and new masterworks and had countless highly rewarding interactions with the University community. We send best wishes to our very special audience who know us better than any other in the world. They have supported our work with such fervor and excitement over the years, and we look forward to seeing them at future performances in Chicago and afar,” he said.
The Pacifica Quartet’s remaining concerts as the Don Michael Randel Ensemble-in-Residence include quartet concerts on Jan. 17 and April 24, and a performance with Contempo on Feb. 29. A public reception for ticketholders and the quartet members will follow the April 24 concert. Visit chicagopresents.uchicago.edu for information on these performances.
UChicago Presents will announce plans for the Imani Winds’ 2016/17 season public performances in early 2016 in its full concert schedule.