At a time when other local performing groups are offering all-Brahms programs, all-Mozart programs and all-Beethoven programs, the Prevailing Winds took a road less traveled Tuesday - they offered an all-Michael Kibbe program.
And that meant more than just his music, as the Los Angeles-based composer himself was on hand to introduce each piece, including the world premieres of his wind-quintet arrangement of Bartok's "Romanian Folk Dances" and his Wind Quintet No. 5, one of 12 such compositions for this combination.Subtitled "Sonic Options," the latter was written some years ago for Kibbe's own North Wind Quintet, but according to him they begged off, claiming insufficient rehearsal time.
I'm sure it requires a fair amount of that, as what it offers is a surround-sound experience in which the quintet members are spotted at various points around the performing space and asked not only to double on other instruments but, in places, to play off one another in an almost improvisatory manner.
Thus Tuesday's performance began with flutist Laurel Ann Maurer and clarinetist Scott Harris at the front of the lobby of Westminster College's Jewett Center and oboist Susan Swidnicki, bassoonist Joyce Mahoney and French horn Linda Atkin toward the rear.
But they didn't stay there, all five players coming to the front, over a high-flown flute cadenza, for the semi-gallumphing march section, then returning to their stations, via a horn bridge, for the moody third section, with its exotic percussion, and jazzily syncopated finale.
Nonetheless the music outweighed the gimmickry, pulling players and listeners alike into its innards. As did the opening piece on the program, the Wind Quintet No. 7 ("In Winter") from 1987, which likewise found everyone at close to their best.
Here, too, one was impressed by the fluency and imagination of the writing, even among the more austere pages, something underscored by the expert blend and skillful interaction of voices.
Oddly, things seemed less smooth in the Wind Quintet No. 4, from 1983, whose essentially upbeat nature and more conventional form did not disguise the fact that individual voices stuck out more. The music's wit came through strongly, however, as did its occasionally Gallic air, the work's "American" subtitle notwithstanding.
By contrast, a Slavic edge marked the Bartok dances - here in an exceptionally flavorful arrangement - thanks in part to the leaned-into rhythms and the infectious energy of the finale. And though I'm less sure how well Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" adapts for wind quintet, a medley of three of its songs was a clear audience favorite, missed notes and all.
A "Pink Flamingos" encore followed, after which the audience was free to mingle, munch and make their thoughts known to Kibbe himself.
Meet the Composer indeed!