This preview has been provided to the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild.

Spend a few pleasant minutes with Tracy Jacobson and one fact becomes immediately evident: WindSync is not your grandfather’s woodwind quintet.

Jacobson, the group’s bassoonist, says WindSync sprung from friendships she and other wind students forged just over five years ago at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. “We made the decision early on that we wanted to be different, but we weren’t sure how exactly we would be innovative in what we do,” says Jacobson. Over the following three years WindSync’s distinctiveness took shape. The group performs on their feet and from memory, often ambling around the stage. The style developed while playing youth concerts. “When children get bored with a performance, they’ll jump off the walls and won’t let you keep playing,” Jacobson says with a laugh. Kids loved the more visually engaging style. “We used them as a barometer for how we would perform.” Adult concertgoers were soon captivated, too.

Houston-based WindSync brings its youthfulness and unique brand of chamber music to Raleigh on Sunday, January 18, 2015, in a concert presented by the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild. The performance begins at 3:00 p.m. at Hayes Barton United Methodist Church. Joining Jacobson are flutist Garrett Hudson, oboist Erin Tsai, clarinetist Jack Marquardt and
Anni Hochhalter on French horn. Though WindSync performed in Durham as part of ArtsMarket 2013, their concert at Hayes Barton will mark the ensemble’s first-ever appearance in Raleigh. Its numerous accolades include winning the 2012 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition, as well as the 2012 Sylvia Ann Hewlett Adventurous Artist Prize.

The group’s repertoire also offers a departure from conventional wind quintets. Instead of playing works originally composed for woodwinds, WindSync performs music it either commissions or arranges itself. On tap in Raleigh, for example, is the group’s popular arrangement of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero. The one-movement piece premiered in 1928 as a ballet and now ranks as Ravel’s most widely known composition.

“We’ll also be playing our program of American folksongs,” Jacobson says. Concert-goers will hear “Simple Gifts,” the traditional Shaker song adopted by Aaron Copland for orchestra in his 1944 Appalachian Spring and again six years later in his Old American Songs for voice and piano (later orchestrated). The program includes “Summertime,” from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (1935). “That’s definitely a classic American folksong,” says Jacobson. WindSync will perform a wind arrangement of the final movement of Dvořák’s string quartet #12 — “The American.” The piece, a chamber music staple, sprung from the Czech composer’s 1893 visit to the immigrant village of Spillville, Iowa. “It’s interesting to have a work by a non-American composer on our American song set,” Jacobson admits. “But Dvořák was inspired by the folk melodies he heard while in this country.”

Aside from the folk song settings will be works by Francaix and Prokofiev, as well as the exhilarating overture from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. Almost everything included on the program will be WindSync’s own arrangements. Though she and her colleagues do not have expertise in composing per se, Jacobson says composition skills aren’t really required to re-invent music originally crafted for other formats. “It does take a vast knowledge of each of our instruments,” she says. “Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle: we’re looking at all the parts, moving them around and trying to put them in the best place possible.”

Outreach to new and non-traditional concert audiences lies at the heart of WindSync’s unpretentious musical mission. “That means inspiring young people to be curious about classical music and continue being part of the classical music experience,” Jacobson explains. She notes that many showing up for the group’s performances are fellow members of the millennial generation. “It’s great to see people our own age enjoying our music.” Some may have played wind instruments in high school concert and marching bands, maintaining a fondness for hearing their instruments if not an eagerness to play them. “That’s also exciting for us,” she says. “We want to be ambassadors for these instruments.”

Tickets for WindSync’s January 18th performance are available prior to the concert, via telephone (919-821-2030) or on Raleigh Chamber Music Guild’s website ( Hayes Barton United Methodist Church is located at 2209 Fairview Road in Raleigh.

by Lawrence Bivins, vice president of the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild.
Reach him at