Close Encounters with Music Presents the Acclaimed New York Woodwind Quintet in “Surveying the Centuries”

Photograph of the New York Woodwind Quintet

Going all the way back to Joshua and the walls of Jericho, in some traditions and cultures, wind instruments are closely associated with the supernatural, and their sounds connote magic. Magic it will be with five of the most thrilling wind players of our time, united in the ensemble now in its seventh decade—the New York Woodwind Quintet.

In chamber music tradition, the wind ensemble is the counterpoint to the string quartet, covering the same range and thriving on colorful hues and timbres. Unique among woodwind quintets touring today, the New York Woodwinds are five virtuosos dedicated to chamber music yet who are individually known as top soloists. The program is a survey of the best of wind repertoire—from Renaissance composer Monteverdi’s madrigals and continuing with Beethoven, Anton Reicha, and on to Jean Francaix’s witty and sparkling music.

Hailed by the New York Times for their “Splendid…truly distinguished” performances and by the Los Angeles Times (“We have never heard better”!), the Quintet has commissioned and premiered numerous compositions, some of which have become classics of the woodwind repertoire. They include Samuel Barber’s Summer Music, and quintets by Gunther Schuller, Ezra Laderman, William Bergsma, Alec Wilder, Wallingford Riegger, and Yehudi Wyner. The Quintet has also featured many of these works in recordings for such labels as Boston Skyline, Bridge, New World and Nonesuch.

Unique among all woodwind quintets touring today, the New York Woodwind Quintet is comprised of artists dedicated to chamber music yet who are individually known as soloists with far-ranging careers. Current NYWQ members are flutist Carol Wincenc, clarinetist Charles Neidich, oboist Stephen Taylor, bassoonist Marc Goldberg, and French horn William Purvis. The NYWQ has been an Ensemble-in-Residence of The Juilliard School since 1989.

Tickets, $45 (Orchestra and Mezzanine) and $25 (Balcony), are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413.528.0100. Subscriptions are $150 ($130 for seniors) for the remaining 4 concerts in the series. Visit our website at


Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts composers and their times in perspective to enrich the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Lera Auerbach, Robert Beaser, Kenji Bunch, Osvaldo Golijov, John Musto, and Paul Schoenfield among others—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists James Tocco, Adam Neiman, Walter Ponce, Lydia Artymiw, Roman Rabinovich, and Jeffrey Swann; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Yehonatan Berick, Vadim Gluzman, and Erin Keefe; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Amy Burton, Jennifer Aylmer, Robert White, Lucille Beer and William Sharp; the Vermeer, Amernet, Muir, Manahattan, Avalon, Hugo Wolf quartets, and Cuarteto Latinamericano; and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs. Close Encounters With Music programs have been presented in cities across the U.S. and Canada—Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Cincinnati, Calgary, Detroit, at the Frick Collection and Merkin Hall in New York City, at Tanglewood and in Great Barrington, MA, as well as in Scottsdale, AZ.  This summer, performances took place at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA; and the Catskill High Peaks Festival continued the educational mission of Close Encounters With Music with 50 international students in residence in the Great Northern Catskills in an immersive course of study and performance.


Surveying the Centuries – The New York Wind Quintet, Saturday, April 18, 6PM

Debussy and Schubert – The Avalon String Quartet, Saturday, May 16, 6PM

Invitation to the Dance – Saturday, June 13, 6PM

These three performances are at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, MA.
A reception with light refreshments follows each concert.

“CONVERSATIONS WITH…” —  A series of talks with notable composers, writers, performers, and cultural avatars

“Unsilent Composer” with composer Phil Kline at The Stables at The Mount, Sunday, May 3, 2PM.  $15 per person includes light refreshments.