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Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Imani Winds and Catalyst Quartet to perform world premiere Sept. 18 at Schwab

Imani Winds and Catalyst Quartet will join talents for “(Im)migration: music of change,” a 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, concert at Schwab Auditorium featuring the world premiere of a work by Catalyst violinist and composer Jessie Montgomery.

Purchase tickets, which are $44 for an adult, $15 for a University Park student, and $34 for a person 18 and younger. A grant from the University Park Student Fee Board makes Penn State student prices possible.

“(Im)migration,” the Montgomery composition, is inspired by the Great Migration of African Americans, during the 20th century, from the perspective of Montgomery’s great-grandfather William McCauley. The nonet will bring together spirituals and work songs that reflect her ancestor’s route from Mississippi through the West, north to the Dakotas and eventually south to Georgia.

Through the special timbral effects of this mix of winds (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn) and strings (two violins, viola and cello), the Montgomery composition will transform the ancestral stories, and reflections upon them, into music. The work continues the storytelling tradition passed through the composer’s mother—playwright, actor and teacher Robbie McCauley.

The Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State co-commissioned Montgomery’s composition through its membership in the national consortium Music Accord, which commissioned the work in conjunction with the Sphinx Organization.

The program will also include Imani Winds performing “Afro Blue” (a jazz standard) by Mongo Santamaria and “Cane” by Jason Moran (inspired by the composer’s Louisiana bayou ancestry); Catalyst Quartet playing “Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout” (a mixture of Western classical and Andean folk elements) by Gabriela Frank; and both ensembles performing “Concierto de Camara” by Puerto Rico native Roberto Sierra.

Imani Winds, which performed previously at Schwab in 2009, has created a distinct presence in the classical music world through dynamic playing, culturally diverse programming, collaborations and outreach programs. The quintet includes flutist Brandon Patrick George, oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz, clarinetist Mark Dover, French hornist Jeff Scott and bassoonist Monica Ellis.

Watch the Imani quintet perform “Wind Chimes” by Paquito D’Rivera.

Catalyst Quartet features leading laureates and alumni of the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition, which provides educational and performance opportunities to Black and Latino musicians. In addition to Montgomery, the quartet, which previously played at Penn State in 2015 and 2016, includes violinist Karla Donehew-Perez, violist Paul Laraia and cellist Karlos Rodriguez.

Watch the Catalyst ensemble perform Montgomery’s composition “Strum.”

This concert is part of the Center for the Performing Arts season focus, “The American Experience: Through an African-American Lens.” Sandra Zaremba and Richard Brown provide support for engagement programming related to the focus performances.

Gay and James Dunne sponsor the concert. The William E. McTurk Endowment provides support.

Imani and Catalyst musicians will also perform a mini concert at an 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, Classical Coffeehouse, a joint presentation of the Center for the Performing Arts and the Penn State Alumni Association in partnership with the Blue & White Society, the PSU Music Service Club, and the Penn State Coffee Club.

The casual-atmosphere coffeehouse, at Hintz Family Alumni Center’s Robb Hall, is free for University Park students. A $10 donation is suggested for each person who isn’t a Penn State student. Complimentary snacks and beverages will be provided.

The Pieter and Lida Ouwehand Endowment supports Classical Coffeehouse presentations.