Listen Five More (Not So Easy) Dances: II. Bossa Nova
Dec 18, 2017
Listen Five More (Not So Easy) Dances: III. Funky
Dec 18, 2017
Listen Five More (Not So Easy) Dances: V. Flamenco
Dec 18, 2017
The members of the Concordia Wind Quintet are all on the music faculty at Concordia College, Moorhead, but their favorite thing to do together is to go to elementary schools and play for kids. Their program teaches students about the different facets of the five instruments in the quintet using demonstrations as well as a healthy dose of humor.
The Concordia Wind Quintet visited many schools in northwestern Minnesota, including Woodland Elementary in Alexandria, shown here, as well as all elementary and middle schools in the Alexandria district.
Flutist Debora Harris demonstrates how the flute can play really fast sounds like birds because the keys are so close together.
Clarinetist Leigh Wakefield has a silly streak that is popular with the audience. He likes to show how he can play a note softly for a long time. He also likes to surprise kids by playing the clarinet suddenly and loudly right in the their faces.
Oboist Stephanie Carlson explains that while the oboe looks similar to a clarinet, it actually has one important difference: It has a double reed instead of a single reed. Professional oboists make their own reeds, carving special cane ordered from France with a little knife until it's just right and then tying the two pieces together with string. It takes about an hour.
Russell Peterson explains how the sound from the bassoon goes from the double-reed mouthpiece, through the bocal, down the tube to the bottom of the instrument, turns around and then goes out the top. Bassoons can play high and sweet, as in the opening to Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring," or low and grumpy, like the "Grandfather Theme" from Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf."
Did you know you can make a bassoon extend its lower pitch range if you just roll up a piece of paper and stick it in the end of the instrument? Well, you can! Leigh Wakefield runs in slow motion with his paper tube as Russell Peterson plays a long note. When Wakefield inserted the paper into the bassoon, the pitch dropped immediately.
The French horn is the descendant of the simple hunting horn, an ornamental replica of which is demonstrated by Karin Wakefield. Valves (buttons) and tubing were added to the horn only in the mid-1800s to make it easier for players to change pitch. A French horn is part of a woodwind quintet even though it's a brass instrument because the timbre sounds good with the woodwinds.
You can make your own simple horn at home as long as you have some coiled plastic tubing, a funnel and a brass mouthpiece! Concordia Wind Quintet performers always plant a funnel in the audience before the concert, so they can say, "Did anyone happen to bring a funnel today?"
Russell Peterson and Karin Wakefield competed to see who had the longer instrument. Peterson was convinced it was the bassoon, until Wakefield revealed that the tubing of a French horn is 17 feet long when unraveled. Needless to say, Peterson was disappointed.
In addition to playing bassoon, Peterson also is a saxophonist and a composer. Here a student helps him play a trill on his sax.
Peterson composes a lot of pieces specifically for Concordia Wind Quintet. Three movements from his suite "Five More (Not So Easy) Dances" were performed at these concerts. Here, the performers lead the students in clapping along with the "Flamenco" movement. You can listen to all three movements on the player above.
A few lucky students got a conducting lesson from Leigh Wakefield before they had a chance to conduct the quintet in a rendition of the "Can-Can," by Offenbach. Wakefield taught them that the right hand is for beat and tempo, while the left hand is for expression and dynamics. Demonstrated in this picture is the "pizza delivery," which means "forte" (loud). (Wakefield joked that there's also the "stinkissimo," which is two fingers pinching one's nose and is meant to indicate that the players are not doing well.)
A student, who was encouraged to change the tempo and the dynamics at will, leads the quintet in the "Can-Can."
High-fives for the front row were given by Peterson. The show ended with a performance of "Amazing Grace," which features a surprise screaming soprano saxophone solo by Peterson.