Four Score Festival

On Sunday we had the privilege (and challenge) of performing Chen Yi’s woodwind quintet Feng for the Four Score Festival at the Music Institute of Chicago in Evanston. Feng, which literally translates to “wind”, was a whirlwind to play! It was a nice reminder to me of how sometimes fiendishly hard individual parts can fit together seamlessly to create a cohesive, un-fiendish-sounding whole. Unlike John Harbison’s woodwind quintet, which we just performed again in Ann Arbor over the weekend, I don’t think that a listener’s first thought would be, “Wow, that sounded hard!” I think the way the crazy groups of 5’s and 6’s traded off, overlapped, and were set in contrast to the long arching melodies made them sound melodic and…breezy.

We were also lucky enough to get feedback directly from composer Chen Yi during our sound check, a luxury we rarely have as classical musicians! Don’t get me wrong–we play plenty of contemporary classical music. But more often than not, the composers aren’t present as we’re preparing and performing their piece. It’s so fun, and so informative, to see a composer’s face light up when you play their piece well, and to have them help you more accurately bring their vision to life.

Oh, and did I also mention that we got to bend pitches? For me as an oboe player who works very hard NOT to let my sound be unstable, that was the most fun of all!
Fifth House Ensemble

Leave a Reply