MSU Music welcomes eminent chamber group

Imani Winds comes to campus as part of the MSU Federal Credit Union Entrepreneurial Musical Artist in Residence. 

GRAMMY-nominated Imani Winds is a chamber quintet consisting of Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboe, Jeff Scott, horn, Brandon Patrick George, flute, Mark Dover, clarinet, and Monica Ellis, bassoon. Photo by Pierre Lidar.

Over two decades, Imani Winds has set a new standard for chamber music and left their mark on young musicians everywhere. The GRAMMY-nominated wind quintet is a pioneer in the performance of new and traditional chamber repertoire, making them a perfect fit as the MSU Federal Credit Union Entrepreneurial Musical Artist in Residence.

The College of Music is excited to welcome this forward-thinking group to East Lansing. During their residency, the musicians will engage in coaching, master classes and workshops with MSU students from Monday, November 4 through Wednesday November 7. They will also visit with local students at Chippewa Middle School and Okemos High School on Thursday, prior to their performance at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts on Friday, Nov. 8.

Imani Winds is made up of musicians Brandon Patrick George, flute, Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboe, Jeff Scott, horn, Mark Dover, clarinet, and Monica Ellis, bassoon. Together, the group established the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival where students of chamber music and composition come together every summer to focus on performance and career development. They have released six albums, including their GRAMMY-nominated The Classical Underground.

When the MSU Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) announced a $5.5 million donation over five years to 10 different MSU programs, the College of Music received $750,000 of that total to fund a new signature artist-in-residence program focused on entrepreneurship in the musical arts. The MSUFCU Entrepreneurial Musical Artist in Residence (EMAR) endowment was created and planning began to bring music majors the opportunity to learn from and network with successful, progressive artists.

“Imani Winds is a leader in the wind quintet world, not only for their artistic excellence but also for their commitment to education and diversity in chamber music,” says Christine Beamer, director of career services and music entrepreneurship. “It is rare that artists of this caliber can spend an entire week at a college, and with MSUFCU’s support we are able to build upon a single scheduled performance at Wharton to offer students an opportunity to forge deeper connections with the artists.”

Several of the master classes and workshops are free and open to the public. More information about the residency can be found at the MSU College of Music event page.

In a program titled “Old Made New,” Imani Winds will perform classical jazz and world music, featuring Ligeti’s spirited Six Bagatelles, Reena Esmail’s India-inspired The Light is the Same, John Harbison’s graceful, melodic Quintet for Winds, Lalo Schifrin’s jazz-inspired La Nouvelle Orleans and more. Tickets for the Nov. 8 event are sold through Wharton Center for Performing Arts.  

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