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WindSync: Shakespeare in Six Acts

    When I heard that I, as a reviewer, would have the opportunity to hear WindSync perform, I was thrilled. I had seen them on YouTube over a year ago and was instantly in love. The group, which recently won the gold medal at the 2016 Fischoff Competition, consists of five members: flautist Garrett Hudson, hornist Anni Hochhalter, oboist Emily Tsai, bassoonist Kara LaMoure, and clarinetist Julian Hernandez—the latter two are recent additions. The five musicians are masters of their craft, and play and arrange their music so well in a quintet chamber setting that it surpasses many full orchestras that I have heard. Going into the concert, my only goal was to see their performance of Ravel’s ‘’Boléro,’’ which is featured in the video that had originally interested me in the group.
    WindSync began their performance with Mendelssohn's Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a cheerful, melodic song that drew the audience in. I could see the primarily older audience spark as the oboe and flute performed duets in an enchanting melody. They then immediately toned it down with Sergei Prokofiev’s “Montagues and Capulets” from his Romeo and Juliet, Suite No. 2. This darker song highlighted both the bassoon and the horn as the deeper instruments, and showcased the group’s ability to work together. In this song in particular, the performers were passing the melody between their instruments, akin to ball players passing a ball. It was mesmerizing. Their body language showed that they were having so much fun, despite the darker tone of the song.
    My main critique regards the way the performers introduced the pieces. This quintet is so alive, even in the darker song, so why were they so distant when introducing their songs? Before each song, a WindSync member would take the mic, and give a little introduction to the next song. These vibrant musicians that had just played an amazing self-arranged piece instantly turned to a stammering group when given the microphone. Their introductions were filled with ‘’ums’’ and nervous laughs that didn’t fit what they were presenting with their music at all. It was a night and day experience, and an aspect that I didn’t enjoy. This quintet is youthful and exciting, so the nervousness of their onstage presence was a little off-putting. The only exception to this rule was Tsai, who excitingly narrated the themes of the selections from their performance of ‘’West Side Story.’’
    Also performed were Igor Stravinsky’s Suite from ‘’Pulcinella,’’ Maurice Ravel’s ‘’Boléro,’’ which included all of the performers taking turns on the snare drum, which was just fantastic, and Radiohead’s ‘’Exit Music (for a Film).’’ All six of their pieces were accompanied with a quote from Shakespeare, which held all these seemingly random works under one singular umbrella. This unity made the performance all the more enjoyable, and really gave a new depth to the performance when viewed as a whole. I thoroughly enjoyed WindSync on the first stop of their ‘’Fischoff Gold Winner Tour,’’ and can’t wait for another opportunity to see these fine musicians in the future.

Explore: Aaron Moushon

Explore: Aaron Moushon

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