The Yale School of Music hosted a reed ensemble called the Akropolis Reed Quintet on Tuesday as part of its Oneppo Chamber Music Series.
The quintet — which consists of a clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, saxophone and oboe — performed a wide variety of pieces, from early 18th-century music to “Sprocket,” a contemporary piece composed this year by Steven Snowden. The Oneppo Series brings established touring groups and resident artists to perform at Yale. This week, the series welcomed two School of Music alumni: Tim Gocklin MUS ’14 ’15, oboist and member of the quintet, and guest percussionist Jeffrey Stern MUS ’16.
“[The quintet is] a really unusual, rather eclectic, dynamic group,” artistic director of the Oneppo Series David Shifrin told the News. “They have the range of any other ensemble, with really great dynamic contrasts. This group with unusual instrumentation put together a repertoire of transcriptions of work that they had adapted, along with commissioning works from composers. Reed instruments tend to sound fairly homogenous, but they’re so different that they have such a broad range of color. If there is a theme, it’s their unusual instrumentation.”
In an interview with the News, Stern also noted the quintet’s experimental repertory choices. He said that because Akropolis already chooses pieces with active and interesting rhythms, Stern’s percussion has provided a “natural augmentation to their sound world.”
“One fun challenge in this particular work by Snowden is an extended melodica passage in my part, so I get to contribute to the wind element of their sound as well,” Smith said.
This year, the ensemble celebrates its 10th anniversary. They have been met with great enthusiasm even though they are a young group. The group has won seven national awards since 2011, including the Fischoff Gold Medal. The Fischoff National Chamber Music Association sponsors the United States’ largest chamber music competition.
According to School of Music Communications Officer David Brensilver, the quintet’s performance in New Haven is especially exciting because it features two School of Music alumni.
“It’s cool to have an alum come back in a relatively young group to perform in a series that this year will bring established artists to Yale,” Brensilver said. “This is an example of how the School of Music works.”
The School of Music is eager to host the quintet because of the wide swathe of music it will perform, including work by living composers like Steven Snowden, Roshanne Etezady and Jeff Scott, Brensilver added.
The quintet has performed works by baroque, romantic and modern composers. Brensilver said this diverse collection permits an experience of music without preconceived notions or artistic biases.
“I think music is about exploration and sharing with audiences,” Brensilver said. “We don’t know what music will have what effect, but hearing a piece of new music is a precious experience. I think it’s on performers like Akropolis to present a performance that contains something new.”
According to Shifrin and Brensilver, the Oneppo Series is about exposure to enthusiastic and well-performed music. They said that the Akropolis Reed Quintet fits well with the rest of the season, which will feature performers such as Pamela Frank, Emanuel Ax and the Zukerman Trio.
The Oneppo Chamber Music Series will host eight shows in the 2019–2020 season in celebration of the School of Music’s 125th anniversary. The Akropolis Reed Quintet concert was the second event of the series.
Sharla Moody | email@example.com