The Pitter-Patter

Another original piece premiering at our 2019 A Celtic Summertide concert is a colorful quartet for flute, clarinet, guitar, & harp by our own Laura Hood! Entitled Happy Feet, it’s an up-tempo, spirited rejoinder to her quiet and serene Summer Waltz (which was included on our debut album).

Here’s Laura in her own words to tell you about her latest creation!

Happy Feet began as a fun finger-picking chord progression I used to play as a warm up exercise on guitar.

Many years ago, as I was picking away Young Ianon the guitar, our son, Ian, who was about 5 or 6, began dancing along. At that time, he was obsessed with Celtic music and dancing. He loved imitating the dancers from Riverdance. So, in our living room we often had our very own free-form (always barefoot) dancer with arms at his sides, doing his own Riverdance fancy footwork. Once in a while, when the spirit moved him, he would throw in some ground spins, hand stands, or a few cartwheels off the edge of the couch. The faster the better, and—wow—could those little bare feet move!

Of course the piece I eventually wrote based on this original progression could only be called Happy Feet.

I have always thought of myself as more of a songwriter than a composer, so Happy Feet is written in a song-like structure (almost like verse and chorus). It begins with that simple chord progression which keeps returning throughout the piece—each time in a bit of a different iteration.

Laura's guitar

From the chorus-like theme, it takes several different melodic pathways depicting a variety of dance moods or dancing steps, always returning back to the original progression. About midway through the piece is a section where our dancers are Farm Party 1having a bit of a hard time: stepping on each other’s toes, maybe suffering from one too many pints, or possibly our son just landed in a heap after one of his cartwheels. I depicted this musically by causing all the parts to crash into one another through contrary motion, syncopated rhythms, and dissonant chords. Eventually we regain balance and return to the main theme once again.

Scoring Happy Feet for Manitou Winds was a fun challenge. I heard the guitar and harp parts very clearly in my head, but the wind parts were more of a challenge. Because I am a brass player, it always takes a bit of time to begin thinking like a woodwind player: able to play so many notes so quickly and jumping from low to high with ease (something which is very difficult on horn).

It’s such a thrill to hear a piece I have written played by fantastic musicians like Anne, Sam, & Jason, and to have them breathing their own energy into it. I’m so appreciative of the practice time I know it took to be able to play all of the parts at—yes—94 bpm, and of the concentrated ensemble work needed to put it together. I’m excited and honored to share this piece with all of you.

We hope you’ll join us for the premiere Saturday, September 21st, 2019, 7:30pm at The Garden Theater in downtown Frankfort! For more information, please visit our performances page.

Beneath Leafy Branches

Jason McKinney, harpOne of the new selections on our 2019 A Celtic Summertide program was composed by Jason based on an old Irish folk tune. Folk tunes often have origins that are difficult or downright impossible to trace. Jason found his tune of choice was no exception!

“It began years ago when I bought Kim Robertson’s beautiful 2006 solo harp album Highland Heart,” says Jason. One track that caught his attention was entitled Dark Woman of the Mountains. “I really enjoyed listening to this track (well, the whole album on repeat, actually). In those days I didn’t even own a harp, so I merely enjoyed imagining what might have inspired the tune.”

Fast forward several years, and we find Jason busy hunting down the origins of this tune in hopes of arranging it for our 2018 A Celtic Summertide concert. “The album’s liner notes claimed the tune was attributed to The Roche Collection, Book I. I did several online searches, but wasn’t finding any matches nor was I confident I’d found the source material. I found several Highland Heart by Kim Robertsontunes with similar names, but none of them came close to the same tune!” he says.

Jason explained that, in Irish, a dark-haired woman would simply be called a “dark woman”. “Oh, there was Dark Woman of the Glen, Dark-Haired Woman of the Mountains (mountain both plural and singular), The Dark Woman, etc., in both Irish and in English. I eventually gave up my search and shelved the idea because I ran out of time.”

It wasn’t until spring 2019 that Jason tried getting in touch with Kim Robertson herself. Kim admitted she didn’t recall where she first learned the tune. Though she’d created all the arrangements for the recording, she said it was the folks at her record label who had written the liner notes. “There’s always the chance that I have the wrong title for it,” she added.

Where do you go when you have a tune that may have the wrong name? Or no name at all? If you have no other leads, for Irish tunes you might turn to one of the largest collections ever compiled: The Complete Collection of Irish Music by George Petrie (c. 1790–1866). Partially published in the 1880s then completed posthumously in 1903 (by Charles Stanford), the collection contains a whopping 1,582 tunes!

TOC from the Complete Petrie Collection

Jason embarked on his needle-in-a-haystack search by combing tune-by-tune through this gigantic volume. “It was easy to get distracted by all the really cool-looking tunes that I imagine no one’s heard for ages, but I was kind of obsessed!” he says. “By chance I decided to start at the end of the book. Would you believe I found the tune in less than 30 minutes?”

from the Complete Petrie Collection

There it was in black-and-white: the mysterious tune, but under a different title (written in the old Irish alphabet). Jason transcribed it into the modern alphabet (Baint Áirnídhe faoi Dhuilleabhar na gCraobh), but he was a little unsure when it came to translating it into English.

“My Irish isn’t that great (definitely not scholarly level), and none of my dictionaries gave me the most solid-sounding translation: Removing Alarms Beneath Leafy Trees. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? I figured there must be an idiomatic piece missing from my translation puzzle or else a poetic slant to the title.”

The entry in Petrie’s collection attributed the tune to a PW Joyce manuscript which Jason managed to track down easily with the aid of the Irish Traditional Music Archive’s website (ITMA).

Patrick Weston Joyce (1827-1914), a younger contemporary of George Petrie and avid collector of Irish tunes, spent a lifetime collecting and jotting down melodies in an effort to preserve the vanishing Irish culture. One of his earliest tune collections is an unpublished manuscript compiled in the summer of 1856. Joyce sent several tunes to Petrie in the hopes of having them published. Thanks to the ITMA website, Jason was able to peruse Joyce’s actual manuscript where he gleefully found the tune written in Joyce’s careful hand, but with a slightly different title (Baint Áirnidhe faoi Ghílúr na gCraobh) and attributed to a Lewis O’Brien of Limerick.

from the Early Joyce Manuscript

“Translating from the pages of that 1856 Joyce manuscript (removing cares/alarms beneath [the] leafy/flocked branches), I started to feel more connected to this tune even in spite of my elementary grasp of Irish syntax,” Jason says. “My excitement, I imagine, is how any archaeologist must feel removing dust and debris, layer-by-layer, to slowly unveil a lost artifact. We may never know much about the person who actually wrote this tune (was it Lewis O’Brien?), but — for me — finding this earliest known title in Joyce’s own handwriting, and pondering the imagery the title evokes was deeply inspiring.”

Jason took an old tune to heart and composed a piece for clarinet, guitar, and harp which he entitled Willow Song. “The character of this old melody has an almost mournful quality. When I hear the tune, especially now, I’m instantly brought to a place of peace,” he explains. “I feel it’s about seeking solitude and comfort beneath a favorite tree or in a forest. I imagine a willow tree next to a pond, but that’s just me. There’s a certain sadness or pain in the melodic line and harmonic motion, but there’s also the sense that this trouble is being lifted up into the branches — there’s communication between human and tree. I created a countermelody to add to this sense of conversation. I think in the music you clearly hear this healing conversation reflected between the clarinet and harp.”

MW and the WillowA month or two after finishing the piece and while he was getting it under his fingers, Jason happened upon a digitized version of The Roche Collection thanks to the ITMA website. Francis Roche (1866–1961) collected tunes from several Irish historians (including PW Joyce) and turned their findings into volumes he published in 1912. The tune turns up in Roche’s Book I where it is entitled Dark Woman of the Mountains (where Kim Robertson’s track got its title). Unfortunately, no one knows where Roche got the title, and Jason has discovered at least one other unrelated tune with that same title. Could it be the beginning of another tune-and-title search?!

We’re excited to unveil Willow Song performed by Anne, Laura, and Jason at our 2019 A Celtic Summertide performance. We hope you’ll join us for the premiere!

Images from “The Complete Collection of Irish Music” (G. Petrie/C.Stanford) and the “Early Joyce Manuscript” (P.W. Joyce) courtesy of the Irish Traditional Music Archive [Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann: http://www.itma.ie ].

A Celtic Summertide 2019

In the summer of 2018, we performed a concert at Frankfort’s Oliver Art Center featuring traditional and original music from Ireland, Scotland, Nova Scotia, & the United States.

A Celtic Summertide by Manitou Winds

That August 2018 concert was such a resounding success and received such a positive response from the community, we knew we’d want to revisit the program and explore it a bit deeper sometime soon. And so, when the opportunity to give a premiere performance in Downtown Frankfort’s historic Garden Theater presented itself, it seemed the perfect time!

Garden Theater

Saturday, September 21, 2019
7:30pm
The Garden Theater
301 Main Street
Frankfort, MI

You’re invited to join us in another journey across the Celtic realm as we explore even more music, poetry, and legends from the many Celtic nations. We’ll be joined once again by special guest Emily Curtin Culler, soprano, plus our colorful palette of instrumental colors including harp, guitar, flute, oboe, english horn, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, and horn!

The Garden Theater is a beautiful performance space right in the heart of Downtown Frankfort with comfy, plush seating for over 300! We’re proud to present this concert with FREE ADMISSION; no reservations or tickets required. You will have the opportunity to support our ensemble with a freewill offering during intermission. Your donations make all of our free concerts possible and enable us to provide fundraising concerts and events to local charities and causes. THANK YOU!

If you weren’t able to join us for the 2018 performance, here’s a sneak peek into some of the music we’ll be sharing from that program:

Trí Amhráin as Éirinn
Jason re-imagined three traditional Irish folk tunes creating a beautiful song cycle for soprano and wind quintet. Emily Curtin Culler joined us for the premiere performance in 2018. This article delves into the interesting stories behind each folk tune and tells you more about our special guest!
Doolin County Clare

Down by the Salley Gardens
Some folk songs endure a strange and metamorphic journey in order to stand the test of time. This article explains what we know about Down by the Salley Gardens, plus Jason discusses his arrangement for soprano, flute, and lever harp.
Ox Mountains, Baile Easa Dara

O’Carolan’s Symphony
In this article, we explore music written by a blind man who traveled back and forth across Ireland for nearly 50 years! What do we know about Turlough O’Carolan, and why is his music still fascinating hundreds of years after his death? Jason explains how he borrowed four of O’Carolan’s beloved tunes to create a symphony honoring Ireland’s last bard.
O'Carolan in Concert

In addition to a few other favorites, we’ll present a handful of brand-new compositions and arrangements by our musicians Laura Hood and Jason McKinney, so stay tuned for an upcoming short series of articles telling you all about them!

Finding the Words

This post was written in preparation for our May 2019 concert, Found Objects.

“Music takes a long time to speak—much longer than words by themselves”

—Ralph Vaughan Williams

Poetry and song have been natural companions since time immemorial, but in Western Classical music, it wasn’t until the Romantic Era (c. 1780-1910) that composers had the novel notion of marrying poetry and music in a way that made them equal partners. Romantic composers felt that when a poet expresses joy, angst or longing, the music should respond sympathetically.

Vaughan Williams by RothensteinFree to venture beyond the sometimes limiting boundaries of tonal harmony, composers granted themselves more and more freedom to bend music to the needs of poetic expression. Though time and style have marched on, this idealistic notion of harmonic and poetic symbiosis remained deeply embedded in the realm of art song. In fact, with the coming of the 20th century and more daring, chromatic writing, it could be asserted that this relationship between text and music has only become stronger.

And so it was late in December of 1957 that Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) spent his Christmas break poring over the expansive literary universe of William Blake (1757-1827). Vaughan Williams had been asked to compose music for a documentary about the life and works of the poet, and became so engrossed in his work that he completed Ten Blake Songs over his vacation.

Vaughan Williams selected most of the poetry for his song cycle from Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. The volume, representing Blake’s most well-known works, explores the contrasts between happy, fearless vulnerability (Innocence) and negative, societal and religious norms (Experience). The tenth poem was excerpted from Blake’s notebook.

Blake Songs

Infant Joy” (Innocence)
A Poison Tree” (Experience)
“The Piper” (Innocence, originally entitled “Introduction“)
London” (Experience)
The Lamb” (Innocence)
The Shepherd” (Innocence)
Ah! Sun-flower” (Experience)
“Cruelty Has a Human Heart” (Experience, originally entitled “A Divine Image“)
The Divine Image” (Innocence)
“Eternity” (originally entitled “Several Questions Answered“, excerpted)

William Blake by Thomas PhillipsWriting music to support and convey the poetry of William Blake is no small task. To say Blake was unappreciated during his lifetime is a bit of an understatement: many of his contemporaries labeled him as mad! Both a visual artist and a poet, Blake’s works often revealed his controversial views on religion, the equality of women and minorities, democracy, and sexuality. Thus, many of his works were unpopular in his time while others remained unpublished for fear of prosecution.

Since Vaughan Williams had long proven his prowess in orchestrating massive works, his decision to score Ten Blake Songs for tenor or soprano voice and oboe reveals his personal understanding of Blake’s work. In fact, his selection of poems oscillates seamlessly between Innocence and Experience, providing the continuity of contrast intended by the poetry.

Vaughan Williams’ minimal scoring provides a juxtaposition of folk-like melodies against restless chromaticism and blatant dissonance, mirroring Blake’s poetic exploration into the contrasts of Innocence and Experience. Though deceptively simple in construction, these songs present very real musical challenges for both vocalist and oboist.

Emily Curtin Culler, soprano & Jason McKinney, oboe

Guest soprano Emily Curtin Culler and Jason have joyfully explored these songs for our spring performance. For Emily, the delight has been mastering the chromatic musical twists, using them to elevate the texts and deepen their meaning. “I love the colors and shading of the harmonies that were clearly meant for certain words and moments in the poems,” says Emily.

Jason & Emily

Though Emily will be the only one articulating Blake’s words, both vocalist and oboist must keep a watchful eye on the poetry. For Jason, it’s been challenging and rewarding to embody the shape-shifting roles Vaughan Williams wrote into the oboe lines. “One minute you’re fairly drone-like accompaniment, then a syllable later, you’re off and running in conversation with the vocalist!” Jason says.

Manitou Winds is proud to present this classic work combining music and poetry. We hope you’ll join us Saturday, May 11th, 2019, for Found Objects: a concert about finding beauty and meaning amid the seemingly serendipitous.

Whoa!

Inspiration can turn up anyplace, whether or not you’re searching for it. It can be found trailside on a walk through a familiar nature preserve, casually absorbed while people watching from your favorite café window, or even scribbled amid the pages of an old Tony Manfredonianotebook.

Composer Tony Manfredonia and his wife, Maria, were combing through some old samples of her poetry when he found a poem that set off a spark in his imagination.

Maria’s poem, Two Roads, was a reflection on a memorable ride on Forte, an ode to her dear paint horse. Their ride had started out typically, but Forte suddenly bolted wildly, full-speed ahead, throwing Maria, and eventually coming to a halt later down the trail.

“Upon reading her piece, I had the conception,” Tony says, “this would be an awesome backdrop for a new, short work for wind quintet.” It was a serendipitous find, for he’d very recently been commissioned by the Bay View Wind Institute faculty to write a brand new quintet. “Forte was an incredibly special horse for my wife. We felt this work would be a nice homage to his life,” Tony says.

Maria & Forte

Tony went on to write a brilliant character piece for wind quintet entitled Whoa! which premiered in July 2018 at the Bay View Music Festival.

Whoa! is essentially a three-part story in musical form, but is told perhaps just as much from the horse’s perspective as the rider’s. In the first section of the piece, the ride is beginning and there’s a sense of reserved excitement as the trail unfolds before us.

Suddenly, an intense fermata gives way to a galloping ostinato as we’re sent tearing through the forest! The music, rushing past like low branches and flashes of light through the canopy, depicts danger, chaotic panic, or thrilling freedom; it all depends on your perspective! Tony built in several colorful musical effects to showcase the voices of the quintet—most notably the unmistakable neighing made possible by clarinet and horn.

Forte

The final section of the piece finds rider and horse recovering from the sudden flurry of energy. Tony unravels the themes as the music gradually fades like the slowing of a pulse. The final note—an audible punctuation mark played by flute, oboe, and clarinet—has the unmistakable air of playful mischief in it.

Manitou Winds is proud to present this exciting recent work! We hope you’ll join us Saturday, May 11th, 2019, for Found Objects: a concert about finding beauty and meaning amid the seemingly serendipitous.

Maria & Forte

Special thanks to Tony and Maria for allowing us to share their personal photos of Forte. You can learn more about Tony Manfredonia and his growing catalog of works by visiting his website.

Spinning Tales from Seven Bagatelles

This post was written in preparation for our May 2019 concert, Found Objects.

What is a bagatelle? Is it a fancy pasta shape traditionally served in a light béarnaise sauce? A hearty Italian bread served alongside a cheeseboard? Actually, it’s neither of those things, though you’re welcome to go and invent either when you’re done reading this article (please send me the recipe if you do). No, it turns out a bagatelle is anything of little value or substance—a trifle (sorry, not the kind with custard and ladyfingers).

As best we can tell, in 1717, François Couperin (1668-1733) was the first composer to apply the term to musical ideas. When given that title, we’re left to believe a piece is something the composer came up with while just playing around, not really putting great effort or thought into it.

Still, as music journalist Stephen Johnson said, “In all these [bagatelles], from Couperin to Ligeti, there’s a sense of something discovered while just ‘playing around’—something which, in several cases, turned out to be anything but ‘mere’.”

This is certainly the case with Peter Schickele’s Seven Bagatelles for woodwind quartet (flute, oboe, clarinet, & bassoon). While the rhythms and isolated lines are not overly complicated, the seemingly abstract harmonies and characters packed underneath each vague but evocative title are no trifling matter.

Most concertgoers know the music of Peter Schickele (b. 1935) thanks, in part, to his alter alias PDQ Bach. Though much of Schickele’s output is peppered with satire and humor, the true Peter Schickeleheart of his work has always been serious Classical music (truth: he resists describing any music as “serious”).

Because they’re short and intriguing, Shickele’s wildcard collection of musical vignettes sprang immediately to mind when I set about selecting repertoire for our Spring 2019 concert, Found Objects. As I began researching the selections on the program, I was surprised to discover virtually nothing had been written about this work.

Written when the composer was 27 years old, Shickele’s Seven Bagatelles contains seven very brief movements, each with a curious title:

I. Three-Legged March
II. Serenade
III. Walking Song
IV. City Song
V. Game
VI. Country Song
VII. River

At the top left of most sheet music, tempo indications are printed which prescribe both the speed and the mood a musician should emulate throughout the piece (e.g., Allegro literally means lively in Italian). The movements in this collection contain no musical instructions at all other than occasional articulations and dynamic suggestions; cold, numerical metronome settings provide the tempos. There are no program notes; no backstory is provided on any page. It’s as though the composer expects us to draw our own conclusions about the meaning of the titles and how they relate to the music that follows.

Each movement begins with no introduction and promptly ends before it’s really had a chance to take off; many of the endings sound less than final. In short, Schickele seems to have made every effort to be vague, leaving almost everything to our imagination.

While it is at times sparse and perhaps playfully obtuse, I never once considered this music “trifling”. Almost immediately, I came to see these bagatelles as a collection of unfinished musical short stories with vastly different settings and characters, united only by their having been gathered into a single work written by a single composer.

Sam Clark, flute; Jason McKinney, oboe; Anne Bara, clarinet; Christina Duperron, bassoon; & Jan Ross, reader

As a creative exercise, I decided to turn each of Schickele’s bagatelles into a writing prompt—composing a literary interpretation for each musical short story. As an accompaniment to our quartet’s performance of Seven Bagatelles, our reader, Jan Ross, will perform my Seven Unfinished Stories between movements.

I. Role-Playing ✣ Three-Legged March
II. The Barista ✣ Serenade
III. Plot Thickeners ✣ Walking Song
IV. The Cabin ✣ City Song
V. Word Search ✣ Game
VI. Shades of Blue ✣ Country Song
VII. Elusive ✣ River

Like each movement of the music, each story drops us into a different setting amid the saga of completely unrelated characters, either at the beginning, middle, or end of their story. The stories are “unfinished” because they conclude with a cliff-hanger, a lingering question, or they’re a full scene but clearly not the end of the story.

We hope you’ll join us Saturday, May 11th, 2019, for Found Objects: a concert about finding beauty and meaning amid the seemingly serendipitous. Together, we’ll explore these seven musical scenes and others we’ve found along the way.

Found Objects

Do inanimate objects have a narrative, a story to tell from their perspective? Can ordinary objects be viewed as works of art? Artists have explored this concept throughout history in one form or another, but composer Jenni Brandon (b. 1977) may be the first to set this inanimate narrative to music.

Jenni-BrandonThis spring, Manitou Winds will perform three movements from Jenni’s “Found Objects: On the Beach”. The six-movement trio, commissioned in 2014 for the PEN Trio, is a colorful, imaginative work bringing to life the narratives of “natural artifacts” the composer discovered on her walks along the coast in Long Beach, California. The motifs and themes of each movement perform double duty, setting the scene while inviting the listener into a world viewed from the perspective of each object.

Movement one, Tumbled Stones depicts the power of the ocean’s currents and waves as they tumble and sculpt the stones littering the sand. With her masterful skills of tone painting, Jenni uses the three voices of the trio (oboe, clarinet, & bassoon) in rising and falling patterns to depict waves. The rounded waves are punctuated by playful motifs depicting the pounding surf and tales of each stone’s journey.

Our trio has enjoyed navigating and negotiating the musical challenges built into this movement—practically a synchronized dance for three! In order to avoid stepping on the toes of your partners, performing it requires knowing the other two parts as intimately as your own. We have to communicate constantly throughout the performance to keep each other in balance, but — at the same time — we have to allow each other the freedom to express our parts individually. The first movement of this trio, in particular, really forces us to flex our ensemble and musiciality muscles!

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Kelly Green Sea Glass, movement two, is a beautiful unaccompanied clarinet solo. While finding glass on the beach can be dangerous, over time sand and sea wear away at its sharp edges to create small gem-like pieces. Gradually, the “gems” dissolve into tiny particles of sand, returning to their origin. Through the use of a special technique (timbral trill), Jenni tells a story of sea glass as it stares at the sun from beneath shallow waters. IMG_5536The melody rises and falls, shimmering and gradually disappearing.

The third movement we’ll perform for the concert is the final movement of the trio: Seashells. Jenni chose a lilting waltz as the storytelling medium for these colorful natural works of art. Just as each seashell is slightly different from the next, the context and color of the melody changes throughout the movement before the ocean waves eventually return, creating a rousing conclusion.

Up north, along the coast of Lake Michigan, where the water is unsalted and the waves are (usually) smaller, we can still appreciate these musical narratives about water’s beauty and its power to change the world around us. Though many of the rocks we find on our beaches were left behind by glaciers carving out our inland seas, they tell a compelling tale nonetheless (including the Petoskey stones). Thanks to a hopefully small cadre of careless beachgoers, we can even occasionally find sea glass all along Lake Michigan’s beaches in many shades!

We’re delighted to present another excellent work by Jenni Brandon, one of our favorite contemporary composers and a champion for modern chamber music. We hope you’ll join us May 11, 2019, to hear the trio as part of our spring concert, “Found Objects”.

IMG_5308

To learn more about Jenni Brandon and her growing catalog of works, visit her website. To discover more about Manitou Winds’ ongoing exploration of Jenni’s music, click here to read past articles from our Manitou-Zine.

Album Release Party!

On Saturday, March 9, 2019, we invited everyone to Rove Estate Vineyard & Winery in Leelanau County to celebrate with us in the release of our debut album, First Flight. An afternoon of excellent local wine and beautiful local music, it was great to visit with you and share some selections from our album along with some newer things we’ve been working on.

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fullsizeoutput_2d99In addition to the award-winning wines and beautiful charcuterie platings from Rove, we were dishing out a Double-Decker Detroit-Style Bumpy Cake from Oryana Community Co-Op.

It isn’t often a local chamber group has the opportunity to create and produce an album. The best part of the party for us, was the opportunity to thank, face to face, many of the people who made our album possible through their donations at our concerts or during last autumn’s Kickstarter campaign.

In our first performance set, we performed colorful quintets:

Shetland Air & Reel — Traditional Shetland, arr. J.T. McKinney
flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, & bassoon

Royal Garden Blues — Clarence & Spencer Williams, arr. Ken Abeling
flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, & bassoon

The Old Ash Tree — J.T. McKinney
flute, clarinet, bassoon, guitar, & harp

A Fine Winter’s Day — J.T. McKinney
flute, clarinet, soprano saxophone, bassoon, & guitar

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After more chatting (and cake and wine) we performed a second set of mixed quartets & trios:

Lytlington Tune — S.H. Nicholson, arr. J.T. McKinney
flute, clarinet, & harp

Summer Waltz — Laura Hood
flute, clarinet, guitar, & harp

Seoithín Seo Hó — Traditional Irish, arr. J.T. McKinney
flute, clarinet, & harp

First Flight — Laura Hood
flute, clarinet, guitar, & harp

III. The Night the Goats Came Home — Traditional Cape Breton, arr. J.T. McKinney
flute, clarinet, & harp

Photo Mar 09, 4 04 12 PM

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We hope you enjoyed the party as much as we did! If you didn’t have a chance to purchase a copy of the album during the festivities, please stop by our CD table at our next concert. Or you can visit CD Baby any time to order a copy or download it to your preferred device.

Winter Songs & Carols: Our 2018 Concert Program

Our 2018 Winter Songs & Carols program was tremendous fun to present and an exciting evening for both performances! We were honored to perform with two very special guests: Emily Curtin Culler, soprano, and Katherine Drago Luellen, mezzo-soprano.

The year had been a very busy one for the ensemble: multiple concerts, a fundraising campaign, a recording project, and recording sessions. Needless to say, we were happy to put together this program of favorite wintry pieces pulled from past programs plus a few new pieces to spice things up!

2017 WS&C, Grace Episcopal Church

We presented an updated arrangement of Gregory Norbett’s Winter’s Coming Home which Jason arranged for our performance with Emily. You can watch the premiere performance right here!

We premiered a joyful, Celtic-flavored original work by Jason entitled A Fine Winter’s Day inspired by a full day of sledding in Leelanau County. We pulled together a truly unique instrumentation for the occasion: flute, clarinet, soprano saxophone, bassoon, & guitar! Watch the premiere performance here!

We premiered another original work entitled Midwinter Twilight which Jason composed especially for our upcoming debut album. It was an intertwining of music and narration depicting a fiery sunset just after the winter solstice. It was a fun experience (and challenge) incorporating narration into live performance! If you weren’t able to join us you’ll just have to wait for your copy of the album to hear the piece.

2017 WS&C, Grace Episcopal Church

As usual, admission to the concert was free. Freewill offerings from our audiences at both performances helped to raise funds for the Friday Community Lunch at Grace Episcopal Church, arts and music programs at the Leelanau School, and operating expenses for our ensemble. Many thanks to our audience for helping us help our community.

And special thanks to our hosts (Grace Episcopal Church, the Leelanau School, and Glen Arbor Arts Center) who provided wonderful venues and support for both concerts.

2018 WS&C, Leelanau School 2018 WS&C, Leelanau School

We so enjoy presenting this annual concert—a beautiful, meaningful way to kick off the holiday season each year. We especially enjoy the opportunity to talk with you afterward and hope you’ll join us at a performance in our 2019 season!

Translating A Sunset

As musicians, we translate written music—the composer’s instructions and all the technical demands—into an active, emotional experience for an audience. During our rehearsals, we often discuss where we think a piece is going—the story it’s telling, the images it brings to our minds, or the characters our instruments are becoming in the unfolding drama.

Unlike a painting or a sculpture, music is a temporal art form—art which exists only in the moment we experience it. We musicians spark a rippling effect, igniting the air with vibration, enlivening it with pulsating rhythms and patterns. It doesn’t stop there, though. Musical art is the shared experience between the composer’s plans, the musicians’ interpretation, and the audience’s imagination and spirit. Each performance is a new creation!

As both a musician and a composer, I relish the challenge of translating my personal memories, reflections, and creative musings into music. I’m honored to share my music with musicians I trust and admire—who will partner with me to create an earnest and heartfelt experience for an audience.

Last winter, on an evening drive into Traverse City, I was awestruck by a scarlet sunset. As I hurtled past the naked forest and snow-covered furrows bathed in those last few moments of daylight, I couldn’t help taking a mental picture. It was a picture of light and color as emotion and sound, of winter as a beginning rather than an end.

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I’m excited to share with you on our debut album the premiere of the musical essay (Midwinter Twilight) that grew from that small moment. The music depicts the colors of a fiery twilight flickering through bare branches along a deserted country road, and the rush of memories of all four seasons across a single landscape. Interwoven into the musical score is narration taken from my personal journal, drawing parallels between sound and light, nature and music.

On behalf of Manitou Winds, I’d like to thank you for making music with us—by being an active participant in the art we create in our concerts and by making a pledge that has enabled us to create our debut album. We truly could not make our art without you.

Sincerely,
Jason McKinney

P.S. Looking forward to visiting with all of you at this year’s Winter Songs & Carols performances where you can hear the first-ever live performance of Midwinter Twilight!

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