Imani Winds and Catalyst Quartet; 04/03/2020

Friday, April 3

Imani Winds and Catalyst Quartet

7:30 PM, Mahaney Arts Center, Robison Hall

Two acclaimed ensembles join forces in a program highlighting experiences of (im)migration. Featured: the Vermont premiere of a new work by Jessie Montgomery, commissioned by Music Accord and SPHINX, and inspired by the Great Migration. Through the lens of her great-grandfather, Montgomery brings together spirituals and work songs that reflect his travels from Mississippi to the west, north, and back to Georgia. Through the special timbral effects of winds and strings, Montgomery transforms these stories, continuing the storytelling tradition passed down by her mother, a playwright, actor, and teacher.

Cash bar and light refreshments available before the concert and at intermission.

Tickets: $28 General public/$22 Midd ID holders/$10 Youth (18 and under)/$6 Midd students


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The Imani Winds perform the third movement from Rimsky-Kosakov's,Scheherazade in the WRTI 90.1 Performance Studioter.

The Catalyst Quartet performs Jessie Montgomery's Strum.



Mongo Santamaria, arr. Jeff Scott Afro Blue (IW)
Jason Moran Cane  (IW)
Jessie Montgomery new work (Vermont premiere) (IW & CQ)
Gabriela Frank Leyendas - An Andean Walkabout (CQ)
Roberto Sierra Concierto de Camera (IW & CQ)

*(IW)=performed by Imani Winds; (CQ)=performed by Catalyst Quartet  

Imani Winds • Catalyst Quartet • Jessie Montgomery, composer

Imani Winds
Brandon Patrick George, flute
Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboe
Mark Dover, clarinet
Jeff Scott, French horn/composer
Monica Ellis, bassoon

Over the course of their 20+ year career, Grammy nominated quintet Imani Winds has discovered what audiences value most from their concerts: a sense of connection - with the music, the performers, the composers, the artistry and beyond. Extolled by the Philadelphia Inquirer as "what triumph sounds like", Imani Winds has created a distinct presence in the classical music world through their dynamic playing, culturally relevant programming, virtuosic collaborations and inspirational outreach programs.

The concept of connectivity has led them to program not only music from the traditional chamber music canon, but also concerts that reach beyond the usual boundaries of the recital stage. Passion for Bach and Coltrane, a concert-length work composed by Imani Winds member Jeff Scott, is an exploration of the two genius' commonality featuring wind quintet, string quartet, jazz trio, and orator. During their multifaceted, two-year residency at University of Chicago, Imani Winds created a concert to specifically highlight the rich history of the institution and the city, with a focus on today's social issues featuring a world premiere by Pulitzer Prize winner and Chicago native Henry Threadgill.

Upcoming seasons include premieres of three new works: Jessie Montgomery's piece inspired by her great-grandfather's migration from the south to the north of the United States; music from Andy Akiho designed to be played not only on a concert stage but also outside of an immigrant detention center, and Miguel del Aguila's piece about the brief Afro-Brazilian nation-state in 1600's Brazil.

The wide range of programs offered by Imani Winds demonstrates their mission to expand the wind quintet repertoire. From Mendelssohn, György Ligeti, and Igor Stravinsky, to Astor Piazzolla, Elliott Carter and John Harbison, to 21st century greats like Frederic Rzewski, Jason Moran and Simon Shaheen, Imani Winds actively seeks to engage new voices into the modern classical idiom.

Imani Winds' touring schedule has taken them across the globe. At home, the group has performed in major concert venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Disney Hall and Kimmel Center. They are frequently engaged by foremost chamber music series in Boston, Washington D.C., Houston, Philadelphia and New York, and have also played virtually every major university performing arts series including those in Amherst, Stanford, Ann Arbor, Austin, Seattle, Urbana and countless others. Festivals include Chamber Music Northwest, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Banff Centre, Virginia Arts Festival, Angel Fire and Ravinia Festival. In recent seasons, the group has traveled extensively internationally, with tours in China, Singapore, Brazil, Australia, England, New Zealand, and throughout Europe.

Imani Winds seamlessly navigates between classical, jazz and world music idioms. Through jazz legend Wayne Shorter's Terra Incognita – his first-ever composition for an ensemble outside of his own – Imani Winds went on to perform at length with Shorter at major European and North American festivals such as the North Sea and Montreal Jazz Festivals. On Shorter's acclaimed release on Blue Note, Without a Net, Imani Winds are prominently featured. The groups' Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center residency culminated in a recital in New York's Alice Tully Hall with renowned clarinetist/saxophonist/composer Paquito D'Rivera. The ensemble has also worked with luminaries such as bandoneonist Daniel Binelli, the Brubeck Brothers, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, clarinetist David Shifrin, and pianists Gilbert Kalish, Stephen Hough, Anne-Marie McDermott and Shai Wosner. Their ambitious project, "Josephine Baker: A Life of Le Jazz Hot!" brought chanteuse René Marie with them to New York, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and St. Louis.

Imani Winds enjoy frequent national exposure in all forms of media, including features on NPR's All Things Considered, appearances on APM's Saint Paul Sunday and Performance Today, BBC/PRI's The World, as well as frequent coverage in major music magazines and newspapers including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. The group maintains an ongoing relationship with Sirius-XM and has been featured multiple times on various channels.

Imani Winds first came to prominence at the 2001 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, where they were selected as the first-ever Educational Residency Ensemble, in recognition of not only their musical abilities but their connection with audiences of all ages. To this day, Imani Winds' commitment to education runs deep. The group participates in residencies throughout the U.S., giving master classes to thousands of students a year. In the summer of 2010 the ensemble launched its annual Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival (IWCMF). The Festival brings together young instrumentalists and composers from across North America and beyond for intense workshops in entrepreneurism as well as explorations and performance of traditional and new chamber music compositions. Festival participants have gone on to successes around the world, ranging from winning positions in orchestras, founding their own music educational programs, winning college professorships, and forming their own chamber music ensembles.

Imani Winds have six releases on Koch International Classics and E1 Music, including their Grammy Award nominated recording, The Classical Underground. They have also recorded for Naxos and Blue Note and released The Rite of Spring on Warner Classics which was on iTunes Best of 2013 list. In 2018 they were featured on pianist, Edward Simon's latest recording project: Sorrows and Triumphs.

In 2016 Imani Winds received their greatest accolade to date: they are on permanent display in the classical music section of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Artist website:

Catalyst Quartet
Karla Donehew Perez and Jessie Montgomery, Violins
Paul Laraia, Viola
Karlos Rodriguez, Cello

Hailed by the New York Times at their Carnegie Hall debut as “invariably energetic and finely burnished…playing with earthy vigor,” Catalyst Quartet is comprised of top Laureates and alumni of the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition. Known for “rhythmic energy, polyphonic clarity and tight ensemble-playing,” the ensemble has toured throughout the United States and abroad, including sold-out performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, at Chicago’s Harris Theater, Miami’s New World Center and Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall. 

Catalyst Quartet has held concert residencies at the University of Michigan, University of Washington, Rice University, Houston’s Society for the Performing Arts, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, the Virginia Arts Festival, and Pennsylvania State University. International residencies where they perform and teach master classes have included the In Harmony Project in England, the University of South Africa, and the Teatro de Bellas Arts in Cali, Colombia.

Catalyst Quartet has been invited to guest artist at important music festivals, Mainly Mozart in San Diego, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Sitka Music Festival, Juneau Jazz and Classics, Strings Music Festival and the Grand Canyon Music Festival. In 2014 they opened the Festival del Sole in Napa with Joshua Bell and also participated in England’s Aldeburgh Music Foundation’s String Quartet Residency with two performances in Jubilee Hall.  Recent seasons have brought international touring in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Puerto Rico, and expanded U.S. tours in Virginia, Minnesota, Hawaii and California. Catalyst’s New York City presence has included concerts on the café series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, for Schneider Concerts at the The New School, and six concerts at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, with whom they recently recorded an album, which will be released this fall.

Their other recordings include The Bach / Gould Project - Catalyst Quartet’s debut recording featuring the members’ own arrangement of J.S. Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variationspaired with Glenn Gould’s seminal String Quartet, on the Azica label and Strum, featuring string works by CQ violinist, composer Jessie Montgomery. CQ has performed on numerous television and radio broadcasts for Detroit Public Television, American Public Media’s Performance Today, and Chicago, Houston, Seattle and Vermont local stations. The ensemble was also featured in The Strad and Strings Magazine.

Founded by the Sphinx Organization, the Catalyst Quartet combines a serious commitment to diversity and education with a passion for contemporary works. In October 2016 the Quartet completed their sixth national tour as principal players and featured ensemble with the Sphinx Virtuosi. Catalyst Quartet members serve as principal faculty at the Sphinx Performance Academy at The Cleveland Institute of Music and Roosevelt University.

The Catalyst Quartet proudly endorses Pirastro strings: Additional information with links to audio and video performances can be found on their artist website:

Jessie Montgomery, composer

Jessie Montgomery is a violinist, composer and music educator from New York City.  She performs and gives workshops in the US and abroad and her compositions are being performed by orchestras and chamber groups throughout the country.

Jessie was born and raised in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1980s during a time when the neighborhood was at a major turning point in its history.  Artists gravitated there and it was a hotbed of cultural activity and community development.  Her parents (father a musician, her mother, an actress) were engaged in the activities of the neighborhood and regularly brought Jessie to rallies, performances and parties where neighbors, activists and artists gathered to celebrate and support the movements of the time. It is from this unique experience that Jessie has created a life in which performance, creativity, education and advocacy merge. 

Jessie began her violin studies, at the Third Street Music School Settlement, one of the oldest community organizations in the country. Upon graduating with her Bachelor’s degree from the Juilliard School in Violin Performance in 2003, she joined forces with Community MusicWorks in Providence, Rhode Island, a nationally recognized leader in community development and music education. With this appointment came her first experience as a professional chamber musician as a member of the Providence String Quartet.  She continued her chamber music endeavors as a founding member of PUBLIQuartet, a string quartet made up of composers and arrangers, featuring their own music as well as that of emerging and established contemporary composers.  Since 2012 she has held post as a member of the highly acclaimed Catalyst Quartet, raved by the New York Times as “invariably energetic and finely burnished…performing with earthly vigor”, touring regularly in the United States and abroad. Most recently she has become a collaborator with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble and will tour with them in the upcoming 2018-19 season.  

Since 1999, Jessie has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports the accomplishments of young African-American and Latino string players.  As a member of the Sphinx network she has played numerous roles within the organization, as a teacher, juror, orchestra member and concertmaster, panelist and ambassador, as well as being a two-time laureate in their annual competition. Jessie was also Composer-in-Residence with the Sphinx Virtuosi, a conductor-less string orchestra which toured her music for 3 seasons.  The tours resulted in radio broadcasts on Performance Today, WFMT in Chicago, Q2 and others, and a review in the Washington Post calling her music “Turbulent, wildly colorful and exploding with life.”  In 2014, Jessie was awarded Sphinx’s generous MPower grant to assist in the recording of her acclaimed debut album, "Strum: Music for Strings" (October, 2015, Azica Records). The Whole Note states that the album displays “a remarkable self-assurance and confidence together with a striking musical inventiveness and imagination”; and Second Inversion, Seattle’s alternative classical radio station, remarks that “The album combines classical chamber music with elements of folk music, spirituals, improvisation, poetry and politics, crafting a unique and insightful new-music perspective on the cross-cultural intersections of American history.” 

In 2012, Jessie completed her graduate degree in Composition for Film and Multimedia at New York University, at which point composing became a true focus on her path. Opportunities came about to partner with the American Composers Orchestra, the Sphinx Organization and chamber groups throughout New York City. Other commissions began to emerge from the Albany Symphony, the Joyce Foundation, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the Young People’s Chorus of NY. 

In fall 2018, Jessie will be an incoming Virginia B.Toulmin Fellow at the Centre for Ballet and the Arts, where she will complete work on a new ballet for Dance Theater of Harlem and the Virginia Arts Festival, in collaboration with choreographer Claudia Schreier. Other upcoming highlights include premieres of new work for soprano Julia Bullock, The Muir Quartet and performances by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. 

Teachers and mentors include Sally Thomas, Ann Setzer, Alice Kanack, Joan Tower, Derek Bermel, Mark Suozzo, Ira Newborn and Laura Kaminsky. 

Mahaney Arts Center
Middlebury College
South Main St./Route 30 South
72 Porter Field Rd.
Middlebury, VT 05753
(802) 443-3168 phone
(802) 443-2834 fax