The Wind Quintet’s Unique Variety – Arizona Philharmonic

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy the woodwind quintet for its variety of sounds. This reason alone would give me eager anticipation of Arizona Philharmonic’s Sonoran Winds Concert on Sunday, September 25, 3 PM, at Yavapai College Performing Arts Center.

Just by looking at the instruments of a Wind Quintet, you can see how unique this ensemble is. There is no other standard quintet that employs four completely different ways of producing the vibrations necessary for the instrument’s sounds.

The flute is a metal, tubular instrument with a hole over which air is directed. Sound vibrations are created by splitting the air stream on the edge of the hole. Many people are surprised that the air is not so much blown into the flute, but more across embouchure hole.

A clarinet is made of ebony wood shaped nearly cylindrical with a flared bell. It has a single reed (a flexible piece of wood) that vibrates against a rigid mouthpiece when blown. The clarinet has a unique ability to play extremely quietly.

Both the oboe and the bassoon use a double reed – two reeds that are strapped together and vibrate against each other. Both instruments are made of wood and are gently conical.

The French horn is roughly 17 feet of brass coiled into the familiar horn shape. Lip vibrations make its sound. (I consider the French horn the guest of the woodwind quintet, since it is considered a “brass” instrument instead of a “woodwind” instrument.)

I invite you to listen to the opening of a work that will be on our program: Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, arranged for Wind Quintet by Mason Jones. You can hear the individual colors of each instrument quite clearly and still marvel at how well these sounds work together.

This will be a beautiful and fun concert featuring fine musicians from Arizona Philharmonic’s ranks. We hope you are able to come. Program notes can be found here. Other concert details and ticket information are on


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