Virtuosity, enthusiasm mark wind quintet

Reputation: Zephyros has toured extensively through the United States, and has been heard on National Public Radio and on Public Radio International.

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January 18, 2001|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

If the string quartet is master of the instrumental chamber music idiom, the woodwind quintet sleeps with the servants.

Oh, how the great composers lavished extraordinary care on their string quartets. Franz Joseph Haydn, the inventor of the genre, wrote more than 80 of them. Beethoven gave us 16 that span each period of his artistic life.

But works for an ensemble of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and French horn in those two canons with no orchestra or piano to accompany them? Good luck trying to find one. Still, there is a marvelous woodwind quartet repertoire.

The Zephyros Wind Quintet will be in Columbia on Saturday evening to perform at the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School. Curtain for this performance, to be presented under the aegis of Candlelight Concerts, will be 8 p.m.

Praised by audiences and critics alike for its brilliant virtuosity and youthful enthusiasm, the Zephyros Quintet has quickly established a national reputation as America's leading young woodwind quintet.

Formed by graduates of Philadelphia's Curtis Institute and New York's Juilliard School in 1994, the quintet won the First and Grand Prizes at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, becoming the first wind ensemble to win both prizes in the event's 22-year history. These awards were granted in 1995, in only the group's second year of existence.

Zephyros has toured extensively through the United States, and has been heard in nationally broadcast performances on National Public Radio and on Public Radio International's "Music from Chautauqua."

At the invitation of the French Embassy in Washington, the quintet played a concert celebrating the centenary of the birth of Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), the French composer who wrote such attractively piquant music for winds.

Saturday's program will include quintets by Jean Francaix and August Klughardt, Paquito D'Rivera's exotic "Aires Tropicales," and the "Summer Music" of America's Samuel Barber, the neo-Romantic whose wonderful compositions came into vogue during the final two decades of the last century.

In addition to the exploration of new repertoire, this weekend's concert affords an opportunity to sample the virtuosity of some of the finest young wind players around.

Flutist Nadine Jeong-Eun Hur has served as principal flutist of the Curtis and Juilliard Orchestras, conceivably the two most distinguished student ensembles in the world.

Oboist James Roe appears regularly at New York's Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall with ensembles such as the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Luke and Maestro James Levine's Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Michael Aaron Bepko has been heard as principal clarinetist in opera orchestras on Public Television's "Live from Lincoln Center," while bassoonist Douglas Quint has toured with Russia's St. Petersburg Philharmonic under the baton of the Baltimore Symphony's Yuri Temirkanov.

French horn musician Patrick Pridemore's resume boasts performances under the likes of James Levine, Sir Simon Rattle and Wolfgang Sawallisch, plus membership in the musical community of the Marlboro Festival, the Mecca of world chamber music in southern Vermont.

Woodwind quintets may not have the cachet of other chamber forms, but surely they are attracting some of the best and brightest our music schools have to offer.

Candlelight Concert's presentation of the Zephyros Wind Quintet will be at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Road, Columbia. A pre-concert lecture begins at 6:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $24; $18 for seniors; $9 for full-time students. Tickets and information: 410-715-0034 or 301-596-6203.

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