Woodwinds blow softly across U.Md. campus

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Entertainment,Marie Gullard

Emily Tsai is always up for sharing the music of her wind instrument with audiences. Friday evening at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, she and four others will get that opportunity.

Tsai, a graduate fellow in the University of Maryland School of Music, plays oboe and is one-fifth of a chamber wind ensemble that, not only entertains, but also educates. Little known facts are brought forward -- such as the common mistake on the part of listeners to confuse the oboe with its reedy cousin, the clarinet.

"The oboe is one of those unique instruments in that, no matter where you go to hear an orchestra or any smaller group, the oboe will be the one instrument that sounds the most different from player to player," she said. "It is due to the way we make our reeds, because almost all oboists do make their own."

History of the Wind Quintet
Where: Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland
When: 8 p.m., Friday
Info: Free; 301-405-ARTS; umd.edu

The configuration of a wind quartet is interesting, in that there is almost always the presence of a horn, which usually resides in the brass section of an orchestra.

"The horn in a woodwind quintet is used to fill out the sound, it fills in gaps and gives a little volume to the music," Tsai continued.

However, the horn, played by Mathew Gray, and Tsai's oboe do not constitute an act. Other members of this quintet known as Siren include Meghan Shanley on flute, Emily Robinson on clarinet and bassoonist Tom Fleming. The group will perform for the rest of this school year and next school year as well, part of a two-year graduate program.

Good news for the public is that the quintet's offering will be offered up free to the public. Pieces to be presented in this show titled History of the Wind Quintet are the works of Beethoven, Taffanel, Hindemith and Ligeti.

"We chose these landmark pieces to get the standards out there," Tsai said. "People don't know much about wind quintets and we want to inspire them to hear more."

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Marie Gullard

Special to The Washington Examiner
The Washington Examiner