The Air City Woodwind Quintet is performing selections from Tchaikovsky’s iconic Nutcracker Suite next Wednesday at Lunch with the Arts. I sent them a few questions in advance so that we could learn more about them and their music. Enjoy!
Chelsea: When and how did your ensemble form? What’s the origin of the name “Air City”?
Air City Woodwind Quintet: In the summer of 2012, our horn player Jody was looking for performance groups to play with in Louisville and decided to start forming some meaningful groups on his own. He shared his vision with our flute player, Jana, whom he knew from a band group called “Sacred Winds” they had both played in. Jana invited Kim (oboe) and Dennis (clarinet) to play and Jody asked Jackie (bassoon). We all were anxious to start, so we began rehearsing and performing in September of 2012.
Our name is a play on the meaning of Jana’s last name. But is also fitting since we are all wind players (and air is the essential sound producing element) and because we live in three different cities across the Commonwealth.
Chelsea: Your members live in Lexington, Lawrenceburg and Louisville. Does the distance present a great challenge? Or present any benefits/opportunities?
ACWQ: Our disparate locations do sometimes prove a challenge – especially since everyone has very busy schedules with playing, teaching, school, and work obligations. It just makes us maximize the time we get together.
The greatest benefits though include having musical contacts in three different locations. We’ve been able to use contacts and resources from each of the players and find more opportunities because of the diverse nature of our locales.
Chelsea: How often do you perform throughout the year? Where and what kind of music?
ACWQ: We’ve played a wide variety of performances and music. We have played many different venues in our year and a half together – colleges, museums, churches, the State Capitol, etc. We have performed music from many genres ranging from standard wind quintet repertoire to jazzy Christmas tunes. We enjoy programing a variety of music on our concerts. Air City WindQuintet has been named the Artist in Residence at Bellarmine University this academic year and will perform several times on campus throughout the year.
Chelsea: What kind of gigs or music do you enjoy playing the most as an ensemble and why?
ACWQ: We like doing a variety of music in our performances and enjoy all the different venues we are given the opportunity to perform. In addition to standard literature, we like to find lesser known pieces. One of our favorite pieces lately is by Julio Medaglua; it has a feisty Latin flavor and features our clarinetist on a virtuosic solo on Eb clarinet. We also have a special affinity for new music. We recently commissioned a work by Tyler Taylor and hope to continue supporting composers with more commissions.
Chelsea: Is this your first time performing in Danville?
ACWQ: Yes, this is our first time performing in Danville as a group! Although, we do have some connections with the area. Our flutist was formally the flute instructor at Centre. Our oboist is the current adjunct oboe instructor there and has performed several times at the college and local Danville churches. Both Jana (flute) and Kim (oboe) have had the pleasure of playing with the Danville Children’s Choir.
Chelsea: How did your performance at Lunch with the Arts come about?
ACWQ: The flutist, Jana, contacted Joan, the coordinator of Lunch With The Arts, and presented a variety of options, including the Nutcracker. The coordinator said that the committee would be delighted for us to perform music from the Nutcracker. Performing the Nutcracker is fitting for Lunch With The Arts in December since the story took place on Christmas Eve and has become music that is commonly heard during the Holiday Season.
The music of The Nutcracker is very vibrant, iconic, and endearing. The variety of characters reflected by the ballet’s music helps highlight the unique voices of our group’s instrumentation. Many popular chamber ensembles such as the string quartet or the brass quintet have a very homogenous sound because their instrument’s produce similar tones. The five instruments of the wind quintet (sometimes referred to as a woodwind quintet, even though we have one brass instrument – the horn!) each have unique characteristics. This variety gives our group a wide palette of potential sounds and we find great enjoyment in capitalizing on all the neat tone combinations we can create!
Chelsea: What does an audience â€œgetâ€ out of a live performance (in general and especially of pieces more well-known like the Nutcracker) versus staying at home and listening to it on CD or iTunes?
ACWQ: It is difficult to replicate the human element of music when listening to an electronic version of a piece of music. There is a wonderful energy you can feel in a live performance. We also think that watching musicians play help you hear elements of the music you may not have noticed otherwise. For example, some of our group members like to sway to parts of the music while others show expression with their face and other body movements. Sometimes these movements can draw your attention to a particular phrase and musical element that might not have been obvious if you weren’t in the audience observing. In addition, the vibrations that are produced from each instrument in a live performance is absent in a recording.
Chelsea: What else should we know about the Air City Woodwind Quintet?
ACWQ: Please contact us if you would like more information on having Air City Wind Quintet perform at your special occasion. Call 859-221-5782 or email email@example.com
IF YOU GO
Lunch with the Arts: Air City Woodwind Quintet
performing selctions from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite
Wednesday, Dec. 18, noon to 1 p.m.
$10, includes boxed lunch from Melton’s Deli (Must register by 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16)
$5 at the door for the program only