Rococoa Wind Quintet serenades intimate Denison audience

On Tues. Jan. 22, the Rococoa Wind Quintet gave a fantastic performance in the Burke Recital Hall down the hill. Despite weather conditions (below freezing), a select few still showed up to see the performers play. The performers included Leslie Maaser on the flute, Steve Rosenberg on the oboe, Nancy Gamso on the clarinet, Karen Atria on the bassoon, and Heidi Wick on the horn. Each member has played an important part in various music faculties around Ohio schools, including Denison’s own Affiliate Studio Instructor of Flute and Chamber Music, Leslie Maaser, the Adjunct Instructor of Oboe, Steve Rosenberg, and the adjunct music faculty here and at Ohio Wesleyan. The members of the Rococoa Wind Quintet each had very different personalities and adorable different quirks that they made very apparent in their stage presence and their introductions to each piece, as each member took on a different piece to introduce.

Their set was composed of six different pieces, including “Passacaille,” “Bourree,” “Menuet,” “Serenade for Winds,” “Milonga sin Palabras,” and “Belle Epoque en Sud-America.” Each piece was composed in a very different time period and each was generally very different from the other. The center point of their performance was the piece “Serenade for Winds” and it was played right before the intermission.

“Serenade for Winds” was composed by Jan Radzynski, a music professor from The Ohio State University, in 1991. Radzynski is an Israeli-American composer and he draws from chords that are typically used in Israeli music. One of the performers had studied at The Ohio State University and had Radzynski as a professor. He made her promise that, if she were ever in a performance group, she would play his piece. The piece is composed of three different movements, each using a variation on classical wind instruments, including instruments like the alto flute, a piccolo, and a bass clarinet. The instrument choice was very broad and varied in range, so playing the pieces was challenging. The range presented in the “Serenade for Winds” is vast and showcases the talent of those performing. It is clear that the piece has Israeli overtones and sounds very almost near middle-eastern. The instruments added to the overall feel of a very Egyptian-sounding melody as well as harmony. The piccolo challenges the range of the ensemble by picking it up in the higher register while the bass clarinet challenges the clarinet players range.

The finale before the encore was a song by Julio Medaglia called “Belle Epoque en Sud-America” and consisted of three movements. The quintet spent time with Boulonge, Aaron Copland’s teacher in France, before starting this song and used it to help them along in the process of learning and performing it. The origin of the song, though, is South America and is perfectly portrayed through the pretty oboe and flute solos that add to any piece.

Personally, my favorite piece was Milonga sin Palabras, composed by Astor Paz- zolla in 1921 and arranged by William Scribner. the piece was very soft, mellow, and fluid. The piece provided the set with a contrasting feel. Everything else felt like a march, which is standard for wind pieces, so the Pazzolla piece provided a very different feeling to the rest of the set.

The concert ended with an encore performance of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” in variations. It completely encompassed the behaviors and personalities of the mem- bers and made for a lovely end to the night. The concert was followed by a reception in the hall, complete with hot cocoa, reflecting the “cocoa” in “Rococoa.” Overall, the concert was a success and the various pieces played throughout the night left the audience happy to be warm in their seats, and even happier to disembark with lovely wind songs in their heads.