TOMORROW, SEPT. 29, at 7:30pm, the Houston wind quintet WindSync performs at 8th Wonder Brewery to celebrate a career milestone: an upcoming trip to London’s Abbey Road Studios to record an album of compositions, including one world premiere composed for the quintet by Uruguayan-American composer Miguel del Aguila.
Inspired by their pending pilgrimage across the pond to the studio where another classically minded ensemble, The Beatles, recorded Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, WindSync’s program for 8thWonder includes a gorgeous arrangement of George Harrison’s ballad, “Here Comes the Sun,” as well as tunes by Radiohead and Edward Elgar. The gig will be performed outside among David Adickes’ statues of The Beatles. It’s another example of WindSync’s innovative and audience-friendly approach to programming and live shows.
“At almost every concert we play, someone comes up and tells us, ‘I didn’t think I was going to like this concert, but I loved it!’” says Anni Hochhalter, who plays horn in WindSync and serves as the ensemble’s executive director. “It’s been really hilarious and rewarding to be pioneers in that way.”
As the founding member of a now 13-year-old ensemble, Hochhalter found Peter Jackson’s film Get Back, which documented the turbulent but ultimately triumphant recording of The Beatles album Let It Be, completely riveting. “The film was really good at tracking these little, musical inside jokes,” says Hochhalter, flagging the scene where Paul McCartney and John Lennon sing “Two Of Us” as a duet through clenched teeth. “It’s kind of a slap-happy thing,” says Hochhalter. “In classical music, that’s such a no-no. But we are just kind of playful in that same way about music.” With that in mind, she’s pretty sure the quintet will take time out from recording to strike a pose along the famous zebra crosswalk outside Abbey Road studios.
But Hochhalter did recognize one big difference between the rehearsal style of WindSync and the Fab Four. “Efficiency of time,” says Hochhalter. “The fact that they all sat around for that many hours. ... In WindSync, we are very efficient to rehearsals, and I think that’s why we’re still around!”
Back in 2009, when Hochhalter left a master’s program at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music to move to Houston to join WindSync, an ambitious student ensemble founded by bassoonist Tracy Jacobson at Rice University, she believed the wind quintet could achieve the same stature and ubiquity in the world of chamber music as the string quartet. While there are at least 100 full-time, professional touring string quartets in the U.S., there are currently just two wind quintets in the country with professional management, recordings, and an international touring schedule: New York City’s Imani Winds, and WindSync, who along with Hochhalter, includes founding member Garrett Hudson (flute) and newer members Emily Tsai (oboe), Graeme Steele Johnson (clarinet) and Kara LaMoure (bassoon). Having recently joined the roster of MKI Artists, who also represent Houston pianist Jon Kimura Parker and the Austin-based Miro Quartet, WindSync is proud to be making their first trip to Europe and represent the city where they got their start.
“We’re really proud to represent Houston,” says Hochhalter. “We’re all over the country all of the time, and I think people are sometimes surprised to hear from Houston. We enjoy being diplomats of the city.”