Imani Winds Outreach Event at Haven for Hope on November 14, 2022
On November 14, 2022, the Grammy-nominated Imani Winds brought the vibrant, hopeful, rhythmic music of Latin America to the residents of Haven for Hope during a gray, drizzling morning. As around 80 residents filed into the cafeteria for lunch, they were greeted by the quintet’s bassoonist Monica Ellis, who spoke powerfully from the raised stage at the end of the room. Ellis introduced the group and their instruments to a rapt audience. The members demonstrated their instruments’ capabilities with representative excerpts, from Brandon Patrick George’s sensitive rendition of Debussy’s mesmerizing Syrinx for solo flute, to clarinetist Mark Dover’s soulful opening to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, which was met with gasps and a big applause. The large room was perfect for winds: their sound resonated beautifully and echoed against the concrete floor and large, glass windows.
Clarinetist Mark Dover’s improvisatory version of Amazing Grace, played upon audience request, left everyone moved.
With energetic, danceable music by Paquito de Rivera and other South and Central American composers, Imani’s powerful playing pierced through the gathering noise as the crowd for lunch grew. “Shhh!” some residents shouted to others, trying to minimize noise so that the music could be well-heard. Apart from the vibrant rhythms of Cuba and Brazil, members of the quintet took the opportunity to also explore more reflective, profound musical examples. Before the group performed a work inspired by an African song about motherhood, oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz took the opportunity to sing the original song a cappella for the audience. Her unexpectedly powerful voice, filled with vibrato and strength, gripped all in attendance. Clarinetist Mark Dover’s improvisatory version of Amazing Grace, played upon audience request, left everyone moved.
Lee Richardson, the Manager of Spiritual and Corporate Relations at Haven, was in attendance— she remarked that such a calming, centering artistic force is often what these residents need. It can bring about a special kind of meditation that is much-needed psychologically in their chaotic, difficult lives. This is just perfect, she said.
Haven for Hope prides itself on being more than just a shelter for the homeless. It is a “transformational campus” that exercises “radical compassion” for its residents, understanding that all human beings deserve a helping hand when they have fallen down in their lives. On that Monday of November 14, the Imani Winds filled Haven’s cafeteria with all the compassion, love, joy, and inspiration that music has the ability to deliver. The San Antonio Chamber Music Society is grateful for Haven for Hope Volunteer DJ Jackson for helping to make this meaningful outreach possible.
Submitted by Daniel Anastasio