Charles Neidich joked that none of the members of the New York Woodwind Quintet are founders of the group. That’s understandable since the quintet was formed in 1948, making it one of the oldest classical music ensembles in the United States.
Neidich, who plays the clarinet, joined the group in 1987. The quintet plays tonight at 7:30 at Legacy Hall, RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, 900 Broadway.
All five musicians have other careers, Neidich said. While they teach together as a group at the Juilliard School in New York City and hold a chamber music seminars, they also each perform solo concerts.
“I play as a soloist all around the world,” Neidich said. “But we come together to play as a quintet as often as possible. Since we are at Juilliard, we practice every week. We are constantly rehearsing.”
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Paul Hostetter, the Ethel Foley Distinguished Chair for Orchestral Activities at Columbus State University, is a fan of the quintet.
“The New York Woodwind Quintet is an ensemble made up of the highest level chamber musicians who have individually and collectively made tremendous contributions to music,” Hostetter said. “They think deeply about sound and are able to make it emotionally charismatic at every turn. We are so very lucky to have them in Columbus both for their performance and to work with the gifted students of the Schwob School of Music.”
Neidich said the quintet tries to play a variety of styles of repertoire for woodwind music.
He said the group offers two different programs to any venue who has booked the ensemble.
“Then we finalize the program with the people on the boards of the concert series,” he said.
The quintet will perform two pieces by composer Elliott Carter.
“He is one of the great composers living today,” Neidich said. “He is 102 now. In 1948, he wrote the first commissioned piece for the New York Woodwind Quintet. Last year, he wrote the second quintet piece for us. It’s incredible. We are playing both those pieces.”
The 2010 piece, “Nine by Five,” is ambitious because the five musicians play nine instruments.
For example, Carol Wincenc, the flutist, will also play piccolo, oboe and French horn.
“We’ll play ‘Partita’ by Irving Fine,” he said. “He wrote this piece around 1950. He is very much like Stravinsky,” Neidich said. “It is beautifully written.
“We will finish with a piece by Beethoven, that is arranged for quintet. It is a very interesting piece.”
Neidich said as a teenager, Beethoven wrote an octet for winds -- two oboes, two clarinets, two French horns and two bassoons. He later transcribed it that made the piece more complex, Neidich said.
It was arranged by bassoonist Mordecai Rechtman as a string quartet.
“It sort of went in an interesting direction,” Neidich said. “It is very virtuosic, very beautiful.”
The last piece, “Adagio and Allegro” by Mozart, was originally written for a mechanical clock organ.
“A mechanical clock organ is a funny little mechanical instrument. Even though he wrote it for this little tinkly instrument, it is a very profound and wonderful work. It really has a tremendous depth of emotion in it in F-Minor. It is a very heartfelt and very sad work.”
The quintet also performs a lot of commissioned work.
“People send us pieces all the time,” Neidich said. “We are always playing new works. We’re always figuring out which one is good to put in our repertoire.”
Each member of the quintet also composes music, and Neidich has written two pieces that will be performed.