For ADN: WindSync wants to change the way you think about wind quintets

Alaska, Beyond Alaska, Print, Uncategorized

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.


When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Discovery Theatre

Tickets: $40.25-$54.75 at

For TNL: Record revival: Music’s comeback kid

Alaska, News, Print, Uncategorized

Originally published in The Northern Light.

In an age where virtually all music is in the palm of our hands, it’s hard to believe why anyone would opt for an outdated analog format of listening to music. Despite Apple music, Spotify, Tidal, good ol’ fashioned YouTube, and other music sharing software and apps the vinyl revival is well on its way into 2015 and is spearheaded by an unlikely generation – the millennials. Those late teen to thirty-something-year old’s are putting vinyl LP’s (long playing albums) back on the shelf in a neighborhood near you.

One half of all record purchases are by people 25 and younger according to research done by Music Watch. With over 13 million vinyl albums sold in 2014, this is the highest vinyl sales have been since 1989, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

In Anchorage, vinyl records are available in multiple locations; Title Wave, Barnes and Noble, and Anchorage’s newest record shop Obsession Records. Obsession Records opened its doors on Nov. 28, 2014. Verna Haynes runs the shop alongside her husband and son where they buy and sell vinyl records as well as electronics, turntables and speakers.

Nostalgia was the main proponent in Steve and Verna Haynes conception of Obsession records. Their collection grew as did their desire to share with the community their love of vinyl and music.

“Years ago, my sister dragged home a few boxes of records and we had this nostalgic moment and had so much fun looking through them. All of the sudden, it became this thing and he [Steve] just sort of took off with it. All of a sudden he’s out there and he’s chasing records and collecting, and then we had this huge collection. He wanted to be able to communicate with other people that like vinyl, that like music,” said Vema.

The shop has all walks of life come through the doors, but it’s the millennials that want to take vinyl to the next level, with better sound quality and modern music.

“I’ve got that 20-30 year old range and they got jobs and they can invest in the better turntable and better components, and they are at a point where they can take it a step further. They want better sound, that kind of thing, invest a little more money. They are serious about their vinyl, they want quality vinyl, they want it to sound good. Then you have people like me in their 50’s who are coming back to it.” said Vema.

Hannah Dorough, UAA English major with a love of vinyl, can thank her parents for introducing her to the record world. Dorough doesn’t think vinyl is coming back, but that it never left.

“I mean, I like it because vinyl is cool. And you get this awesome feeling when you listen to them. It’s like the musical equivalent to opening that old, dusty book, you know? It’s just cooler to have on vinyl and just feels good to listen to. Honestly, they never truly went out of style. Like the people who love vinyl still love it, still buy it. Even CD’s are rarely bought anymore, but the people who love them go out and buy them,” said Dorough.

Local musician Ian Wahl, age 21, grew up listening and playing music. Wahl appreciates the opportunity vinyl gives you to listen to the music as the artist intended, something Wahl believes is hard to come by.

“I think the appeal has a lot to to with the look and feel of vinyl. I also tend to only listen to older records so it kind of makes me feel closer to the artist that recorded the tracks because that is the way they heard their music and the music that inspired them. In this day you can go online and find almost any song ever recorded and released, but with vinyl you have to hunt through second hand stores and garage sales to find a certain artist or record which makes listening to it more rewarding. I also like having a whole record because I hear songs that I might otherwise not have on B sides of albums that weren’t remembered. When you go online and look for a certain song you find it and play it and you get the other top 40s hits from that artist and genre but you don’t hear the song in the context of what that artist was feeling and creating at that time.” said Wahl.

With a nostalgia transcending generations and a sense of pride, vinyl gives millennials a fascinating and traditional format of listening to music and expressing themselves. Whether you’re a 50-year-old whose always had a love for vinyl and never believed it went out of style, or a 22-year-old with a box of old records your grandparents gave you, vinyl is here to stay