Four Or More Wind Quintets To Explore

The Wind Quintet is not my favorite line-up; the five sound worlds are so disparate, that for me sparky French music works best, sharply contrasting the tone colours, and there are not a great number of significant pieces in that genre. I much prefer the Harmoniemusik of double quartet, or Jean Francaix' preferred ensemble, the double quintet. I recently donated all of my wind quintet music to the RNCM, but there are four works which I might have kept and so I have four strong recommendations for quintets looking for a bit of fun with new repertoire.

Brett Abigana

Starry Night - van Gogh

I have written at some length about Brett Abigana's music for wind orchestra, ever since I heard his Petite Ouverture at the 2009 WASBE Conference. We corresponded and I conducted his Sketches on Paintings no 2 for wind orchestra with the Wilfrid Laurier University.

My new discovery for wind quintet is his Sketches on Paintings no. 1, like the band piece by turns, lyrical, quirky, amusing and often beautiful. The five movements are:

  • Impression: Sunrise Monet
  • La Danse Matisse
  • The Banjo Lesson Tanner
  • Effetti del Buon Governo Lorenzettif
  • Starry Night van Gogh

To access excerpts of performances of all five movements, go to Sketches on Paintings no. 1 and follow the links onBrett's website.

Paquito D'Rivera

Paquito D'Rivera

I was delighted to come across Aires Tropicales, which is a great work by the virtuoso clarinettist and saxophone player, Paquito d'Rivera, who comfortably bridges the twin worlds of jazz and classical music. Back in 1996, I was honoured to receive the International Award from the Mid West Clinic, an exciting evening, perfected by an amazing concert of jazz following the ceremony led by Paquito a consummate artist, equally at home quoting from Bach or Mozart in his extemporizations as exploring the rich vein of Cuban and South American music.

Chris Brubeck

Chris Brubeck

Another great artist who combines jazz and classical worlds is David Brubeck.

While at Ithaca College, I wrote: Finally Last week I heard a terrific piece by Dave Brubeck's son, Chris Brubeck, called Vignettes for wind quintet and jazz quartet. An enquiry to his website brought back the astonishing news that he has a wind band piece written already, Threshold of Liberty, published by Carl Fischer.

Greg Danner

Greg Danner

Finally to Tennessee - the wind quintet repertoire often displays wit, but there is not a great deal of really funny music. If you have a player or two with big personalities who can spin a yarn, the cornier the better, then contact Greg Danner at or go to GREG DANNER. I just adored his Vaudeville, and since then have listened to Into the Blue.

VAUDEVILLE!, wind quintet (available from the composer)

Entertaining set of five movements--a ragtime overture followed by four "acts." Highlight is the finale, "The Comics," where duo jokes (i.e. Abbott and Costello) are interspersed throughout. Available from the composer... This is a really funny piece of music)

INTO THE BLUE, wind quintet (available from the composer)

Folk music with overdrive was how Alan Lomax described bluegrass music. This set of five movements is a tribute to some of the legendary performers that helped to shape this uniquely American art form. Available from the composer. Recorded on Albany Records No.

Recording available at

Into the Blue - Cumberland Wind Quintet or may be downloaded from Itunes.

MARY'S LITTLE LAMB, wind quintet (available from the composer)

Designed to illustrate music and emotion for young audiences. The familiar tune "Mary Had a Little Lamb" is the basis for a short story with melodic variations. Weaved throughout each variation are excerpts from musical literature, including quotes from Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Stravinsky, and Glenn Miller. Can be performed with oboe soloist narrating, or with a separate narrator. Available from the composer.

TEXTURES, wind quintet, Seesaw Music Corp.