Imani Winds - Master Class with SIREN

By Hannah Morgan

Imagine perfecting a piece of music and then performing it to an audience- only to have members immediately climb onstage and critique the performance.

The University of Maryland's graduate fellowship wind quintet, SIREN, began playing together this past September. The five talented musicians, hailing from all over the states, led the audience through a cultural journey Wednesday night.

Listening to SIREN reminded me of walking through the courtyard of CSPAC. Each member of the band, composed of a flute, oboe, clarinet, french horn, bassoon and african drums, played their own unique part but when taken in together, created an amazing sound.

At one point, the drummer began playing what looked like a water bowl, and I immediately felt like I was transported to a raft floating down the Amazon. The players smiled and nodded at each other throughout the performance, and took turns playing impressive chromatic riffs, speeding up and slowing down without appearing to exhaust much effort- I was out of breath just listening.

The five members of Imani Winds, a Grammy-nominated quintet known for their innovative fusion of European, African and Latin American music sat in the audience, and immediately after SIREN played, jumped onstage and began to pick apart the performers. The Imani Winds quintet pushed SIREN's stands down, ordered them to stand up, and at one point even grabbed the flute player's instrument and played out a riff.

It took me a few minutes to realize that the composer of the song itself was in the audience and one of the women onstage evaluating the piece. I can't believe how incredibly brave each member of SIREN was, to be willing to be judged in front of family, teachers and friends. And it was to good avail, each member of Imani Winds eventually expressed how impressed they were with the performance.

Although I have never played in a woodwind quintet, let alone in front of a professional one, this performance completely changed my opinion of each instrument that was played, especially the bassoon and french horn. I had never heard their incredible ranges before, and will never question pairing them with a water dish and maracas again.

Overall, an incredible performance. I look forward to following the work of SIREN while they are here at Maryland.