by Jeremy Reynolds
“We all really enjoy French music,” said Black Squirrel Winds oboist Danna Sundet. “These pieces were written within a decade of each other, between 1923 and 1932, and give a snapshot into wind music in the first part of the 20th century.”
On Sunday, March 12 at 5:00 pm at Christ Church Episcopal in Hudson, Kent State University’s faculty wind quintet, the Black Squirrel Winds, will perform as part of Music From the Western Reserve’s concert series. The program will include music by Tansman, Janáček, and Poulenc.
Formed five years ago, Black Squirrel Winds regularly performs on Kent State’s main campus, the University’s satellite campuses, and at other colleges and high schools. Named in honor of the unofficial mascot of Kent State, the group includes Sundet, flutist Diane McCloskey, clarinetist Amitai Vardi, bassoonist Mark DeMio, and hornist Kent Larmee. For Sunday’s concert, the quintet will be joined by clarinetist Tiago Delgado and pianist Elizabeth DeMio.
“We decided to call ourselves the Black Squirrel Winds instead of the Black Squirrel Quintet so that we could bring other people on board,” Sundet said during a recent telephone conversation. She noted that the ensemble regularly collaborates with Elizabeth DeMio and has been on a mission to explore the piano-and-wind repertoire with her. “We’re lucky that Mark is married to one of the best pianists in Cleveland.”
Sundet said that the Poulenc Sextet is one of the most dynamic and exciting works written for winds and piano. “It’s one of our favorite pieces, a real attention-grabber, and it makes a good closer to the program.”
Tansman, a Polish composer who lived in the late 1800s, originally composed “La danse de la sorciére” as part of his incomplete ballet Le Jardin du Paradis. “It’s this really cool, rhythmic piece, and we’re excited to open the concert with it,” Sundet said.
She described Janáček’s “Youth” Suite for wind sextet (including bass clarinet) as a nostalgic, charming piece. Despite a disastrous premiere in 1924, its second performance was wildly successful. The Suite won Janáček the Prize of the Czech Academy of Sciences in 1925.
Aside from teaching and performing, the Black Squirrel Winds keep busy taking on additional pedagogical projects. Sundet noted that the group has played every single quintet on the Ohio Music Educators Association concert and contest list. They have made video recordings of their favorites available online as a resource to Ohio students. Additionally, Vardi recently spearheaded a chamber music program for winds, strings, brass, piano, and mixed ensembles at Kent State that attracted more than 30 students during the inaugural semester.
Sundet said she and her colleagues look forward to their performance on the Music From the Western Reserve series. “It’s a very well-attended and respected series, and we’re honored to be performing on it.”
Published on ClevelandClassical.com March 7, 2017.
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