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Westminster Music Library

18 January 2023 | 12:30 pm


Gunther Schuller Suite for Wind Quintet 

  • I. Prelude. Allegro
  • II. Blues. Andante
  • III. Toccata. Presto

Thea Musgrave Wind Quintet 

John Cage Five

Valerie Coleman Afro-Cuban Concerto 

  • I. Afro
  • II. Vocalise
  • III. Danza

Why this programme…?

First and last pieces mirror each other with inspiration from two different cultures. In between are two pieces coming from two separate schools of 20th century thought despite being written just four years apart.

We open our first programme of the new year with Schuller’s  jazz inspired suite for wind quintet (1945)  – the prelude kicking the American theme of our programme into motion. A particular favourite for Lumas is the ‘blues’ second movement which transforms the wind quintet into something else entirely – slides from Johan, and an easy going bass line from Flo.

Onto Thea Musgrave’s dramatic wind quintet (1992) which she describes as ‘an opera without plot’. It’s a piece that really challenges our ability to blend our five instruments together, then heads towards virtuosity in the madness, through a beguiling bassoon cadenza-like solo, to then finish with the same blend from the start.

John Cage’s Five (1988) was composed for any five voices (or instruments) and will require us to be keeping a keen eye on a stopwatch on each of our stands. Each performance is different from the next (which is, some might say… a little like jazz music) as we each get a choice of three notes to play within numerous time frames. The piece is also exactly five minutes in length.

We end with the Afro-Cuban Concerto (2001) by composer and flautist Valerie Coleman. The performers are given rotating soloistic freedom above a solid accompaniment of traditional 6/8 rhythmic dialogues; there’s interweaving harmonies; and a rhumba with “layers upon layers of percussive rhythms.” Rather melodious and joyous sounding, Coleman says that “it is the feel of spirituality, passion, and rhythmic precisions that brings the essence of Afro-Cuban music to life in this piece”.


Westminster Music Library
35 Saint Martin's Street
London, WC2H 7HP
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