Breathing musical winds with Caroline Shaw, VOCES8, Imani Winds, and more

BSR Classical Music Interludes: February 2023

4 minute read
Five performers with their wind instruments pose in front of a fuschia-pink backdrop, straight-faced in formal wear.
Mark Dover, Brandon Patrick George, Monica Ellis, Kevin Newton, Toyin Spellman-Diaz (from left to right) make up Imani Winds. (Photo courtesy of Shervin Lainez.)

February is another great classical music month. It starts off with a bang—vocal riches abound. And then good luck picking something to attend on February 3, an evening with three offerings: Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion; Imani Winds; and the spirituals of Lord, Write My Name. On through the middle of the month, there’s vocal music from Variant 6 and VOCES8, early music from Filament, and Pyxis Piano Trio in iconoclastic works by Ravel and Dvorak. And look for more in a later-in-the-month preview!

Lord, Write My Name
Friday, February 3, 7:30pm
Zlock Performing Arts Center at Bucks County Community College, 274 Swamp Road, Newtown

Nationally recognized baritone Keith Spencer and composer/arranger Peter Hilliard (on the piano) again team up after their critically acclaimed performance of Brothers on Broadway to present a tapestry of African American spirituals. The concert, featuring works arranged by Hilliard, like "Go Down, Moses" and “Steal Away,” will also be interspersed with narratives, poetry, and letters.

Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion
Friday, February 3, 8pm
Penn Live Arts at Annenberg Center, Zellerbach Theatre, 3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

This adventurous 50th-anniversary series continues with two stunning vocal presentations. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw combines forces with the iconoclastic Sō Percussion, known for their musical rigor and exuberance. Having recently made her debut as a solo vocal artist, Shaw will pair with Sō’s nearly endless menagerie of instruments and techniques in a program of Philadelphia premieres. And at 7pm, Penn music professor Anna Weesner will host Shaw in a pre-concert talk.

Thursday, February 9, 7:30pm
Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 19 South 38th Street, Philadelphia

This Grammy-nominated British a cappella ensemble boasts a diverse repertoire, impeccable tone and balance, and a charming stage presence. This concert is an opportunity to hear them in one of Philadelphia’s most beautiful spaces before the April release of Home, their album of music by noted choral composer Eric Whitacre, who calls them his “dream vocal group.”

Imani Winds
Friday, February 3, 7:30pm
Philadelphia Chamber Music Society Series at American Philosophical Society/Benjamin Franklin Hall, 427 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

Saturday, February 11, 3pm
Master Players Series at University of Delaware, Gore Recital Hall, 100 Orchard Road, Newark

This groundbreaking NYC ensemble and Grammy nominee has been making great music for over two decades. In 2016, they received their greatest accolade: a permanent presence in the classical music section of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. They’re in our region at two venues, first in Philadelphia (as part of PCMS—this concert will feature works by Cuban, Brazilian, Argentine, and Uruguayan-American composers.) and then in Newark, Delaware, in the Master Players Series (this in-person concert will also be available via livestream or on-demand). Wherever you live, you won’t have to travel far to hear this celebrated woodwind quintet.

Variant 6 and Filament Baroque: Virtue & Vice
Friday, February 10, 7pm
St. John’s in The Village, 218 West 11th Street, New York City

Saturday, February 11, 3pm
First & Central Presbyterian Church, 1101 North Market Street, Wilmington

Sunday, February 12, 3pm
First Presbyterian Church, 35 West Chelten Avenue, Philadelphia

These two increasingly popular early music groups are joining forces for an unusual concert. The Variant 6 vocalists and Filament’s instrumental trio will explore French sacred music at the turn of the 18th century in a unique program that includes the meditative Litanies de la Vierge, Charpentier’s dramatic telling of the martyrdom of St. Cecilia. There’s also a selection of New World motets collected and sung in an Ursuline abbey in 18th-century New Orleans.

Pyxis Piano Trio: Defying Expectations
Thursday, February 16, 7:30pm
Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington

In the museum’s Concerts on Kentmere series, Pyxis plays music in conversation with DelArt’s offerings. This concert rounds out the ensemble’s 14th season there with music by two composers who defied the expectations of their times, much like Evelyn and William De Morgan, the artists featured in the exhibition soon going on tour. Luigi Mazzocchi (violin), Jennifer Jie Jin (cello), and Hiroko Yamazaki (piano) play Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello and the groundbreaking “Dumky” Piano Trio of Antonín Dvořák. A curator talk precedes the concert at 7pm.

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