Originally published in Alaska Dispatch News

Radiohead and Billy Joel might not come to mind when you think of a wind quintet performance, but WindSync is on a mission to expand and modernize the repertoire with new arrangements that span genres.

Each musician, from the flutist to the bassoon player, helps modify the source music — which might have been originally written for a full orchestra, singers, piano or even a rock band.

“We put it all together and we end up with something that sometimes is poppy, sometimes has jazz influence, often draws heavily on the classical tradition, but it’s sort of a different spin on that tradition. It takes extra work, but it’s well worth it,” said Kara LaMoure, WindSync bassoonist.

WindSync has gotten a lot of their recognition from videos of their performances of popular music, especially covers of Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes” and George Gershwin’s “Summertime.” In addition to new and popular music, WindSync also dips into jazz, folk and musical theater.

“For us, if we program top-40 music or anything that’s considered a more popular genre of music it’s because it’s really a key component of our programming. So for us they’re few and far between, but they are important because we do want to celebrate all genres,” LaMoure said.

“We don’t say, ‘Oh, we’re classical musicians so we’ll never play pop music.’ We think of it as just part of our programming.”

LaMoure said WindSync is influenced by American composers like Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland, who incorporated different musical traditions in their work.

“We’re really inspired by any music that tells a story or that can relate to a very wide demographic,” LaMoure said. “We’re exploring music that does that with a wide variety of influences: Melodies that can connect across wide audiences.”

The original ensemble was born out of the Rice University music program. Two of the original members — Garrett Hudson on the flute and Anni Hochhalter on the horn — still perform with the group today. Based out of Houston, the current ensemble also includes Emily Tsai on the oboe, Julian Hernandez on the clarinet and Kara LaMoure on the bassoon. Eight years after getting their start, WindSync spends about 100 days out of the year touring across the U.S. and internationally.

“We are dedicated to expanding the quintet repertoire and making a difference in the communities we perform in,” LaMoure said.

WindySync will be performing for students in the Anchorage School District. LaMoure said they want to engage the students through participation in their performance.

“We do ‘Peter and the Wolf’ in elementary schools all the time. When we do it we act out the story, we’re running around the stage. We are even playing our instruments while we’re running around the stage, so that gets crazy and intense,” LaMoure said.

“We also introduce them to how sound is produced on our instruments. We want them to have the beginnings to the idea of how music works.”

WindSync often strays from classical music performance decorum, something LaMoure said is intentional.

“In classical music there’s a lot of issues of ‘don’t clap between the movements,’ wear this specific kind of dress, or, you know, there’s a certain etiquette that’s expected,” LaMoure said. “But for us we kind of want that connection with the music to be more immediate and personal. So if the response is organic then we’re really happy.”

Overall, the ensemble hopes to create a visual experience as well as a listening one.

“Even the most seasoned wind quintet fans will see something new and interesting to them,” LaMoure said.

WindSync

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Discovery Theatre

Tickets: $40.25-$54.75 at alaskapac.centertix.net

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