The Akropolis Reed Quintet — made up of clarinet, bass clarinet, oboe, bassoon and saxophone — has a unique sound, far different from that of the traditional woodwind quintet. Following the lead of Calefax, the Dutch reed quintet formed in 1985, the 10-year-old Akropolis substitutes the bass clarinet and saxophone for the traditional flute and horn.
“The sounds and colors that we were able to get as five reed instruments were unlike anything we had ever heard before,” said clarinetist Kari Landry.
Added saxophonist Matt Landry, “We are still exploring the colors we can create with different combos of instruments and their different ranges. It only takes two to make a weird color — and we have five! It’s always fun.”
The Akropolis Quintet concert takes place on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m., at the Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore. It will showcase three recent works written for the reed quintet as well as Gershwin’s “An American in Paris,” which was arranged by Dutch saxophonist Raaf Hekkema of Calefax.
Akropolis will introduce the audience to the sounds of this unique instrumentation with composer Marc Mellits’ “Splinter.” Probably the most popular work in the reed quintet’s repertoire, it is composed of short ‘miniatures’ named for six trees, each with its own personality.
The program also includes American Academy of Arts and Letters Music Award winner Stacy Garrop’s “Rites for the Afterlife,” a musical journey following the Egyptian concept of the soul’s passage into and through the afterlife.
The newest work on the program is Jeff Scott’s “Homage to Paradise Valley,” one of ten works that Akropolis commissioned in celebration of their 10th anniversary this year. Scott, a classically trained French horn player, utilized his diverse musical background as a jazz and studio musician in composing a work for this unique all reed ensemble. “Homage to Paradise Valley” celebrates the history of Detroit’s displaced Black Bottom/Paradise Valley neighborhood, which was known for the contributions of its African-American residents to American music, including Blues, Big Band, and Jazz.
Hailed by Fanfare Magazine for their “imagination, infallible musicality, and huge vitality,” Akropolis has commissioned 30 works by composers from seven countries, recorded 17 original reed quintets, created a YouTube Web Premiere Series, designed and taught music business management courses, held many workshops for university musicians, visited thousands of K-12 students, and coordinated a yearly Detroit music festival, all while garnering seven national chamber music prizes including the Fischoff Gold Medal and Fischoff Educator Award.
Akropolis is committed to nurturing music appreciation among young audiences. With support from Del Valle Fine Arts and the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, the quintet will visit music classes at Mendenhall Middle School and Granada High School in Livermore.
Free youth tickets and reduced college rush tickets are available for this concert. Regular ticket prices start at $32. To purchase tickets, visit lvpac.org or call 925-373-6800.