The innovative Houston-based wind quintet WindSync was slated to perform at the Waterford Concert Series in the spring of 2020—in what turned out to be the performing arts season that wasn’t.
Instead, the past 18 months have been “a time for learning new skills as an ensemble, exploring new artistic ground,” said WindSync’s bassoonist Kara LaMoure.
But WindSync is back on the Waterford series program this November—part of an eclectic and exciting mix of world-class musicians who will perform in the tiny western Loudoun village this fall and next spring.
The series kicks off Saturday, Sept. 25 with a performance by the in-demand string ensemble The Dover Quartet. For both organizers and musicians, the series is a long-awaited return to the infectious joy of playing and listening to live music. It also underscores the importance of small, intimate concerts as social experiences—a chance for music lovers to spend time in community.
LaMoure said the group has been ramping up its live performances since the spring and recently performed a show similar to the Waterford program in Oregon.
“It felt fantastic to be back, there’s no substitute for live music,” she said.
Now in its 26th season, the Waterford Concert Series has been bringing world-class classical music to Waterford Old School for nearly three decades. The series focuses on chamber music from small instrumental groups, but organizers also include opera and solo piano performances in the mix.
“At a time when things have been so isolating for so many people, our goal is to increase accessibility to these world-class artists and performers. It offers an incredible opportunity to see some of the world’s best performers for very reasonable prices in this intimate setting. It’s something that people will not get in other places,” said Waterford Concert Series president Susan Sutter.
Many of the ensembles on the schedule for the upcoming season are groups that were scheduled in 2020, Sutter said, with a few exciting new additions. The Dover Quartet is the perfect group to kick off the season: it was slated to launch the Waterford season the second weekend in March 2020. Like performances around the globe, that show was canceled abruptly when everything came to a screeching halt just a few days before.
“[Dover] is one of the most sought-after quartets in the U.S. right now and we’re very lucky to get them,” Sutter said.
Organizers picked a Saturday evening concert for the September series launch, but concerts for the rest of the season take place on Sunday afternoons. Performances include the Grammy-nominated Hermitage Piano Trio in October and the WindSync show in November. After a two-month winter break, the series resumes in March with pianist Alessio Bax, followed by The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Wind Ensemble with Piano in April, then wraps up with an opera program from Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni in May.
Sutter said the variety and versatility of the series is reflected in its two bookend wind ensembles.
“It’s a wonderful contrast: you have WindSync, this young group, very energetic, very interactive programming. Then we were amazed we were able to book the Academy of St Martin in the Fields which is a very traditional wind [ensemble],” she said.
WindSync’s eclectic November program includes a high-energy piece inspired by Turkish folk music and a Beethoven quintet that highlights the social nature of chamber music.
“I think what audiences are keying into about this program so far is how it is such a broad journey through space and time and all around the world,” LaMoure said. “[The Beethoven] piece comes from when chamber music for winds was really coming into its own as an art form. At the time, it was music for social events. That kind of circles back to what we’re doing in the pandemic era: outdoor concerts and smaller audiences that feel more intimate and social. It’s kind of special that that music has now come back to its original purpose.”
While its programming is innovative, WindSync is a traditional wind quintet with an instrumental lineup that has existed for 200 years: flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn and bassoon.
“These instruments are all so different from each other that we have an incredibly wide range of colors available to us,” LaMoure said.
Introducing new audiences to the wind ensemble—and capturing the attention of younger listeners is one of WindSync’s missions—and also a priority for Waterford organizers.
LaMoure and her fellow members came out of school band programs and are also educators, so reaching young audiences is a priority.
“Coming out of public schools for the most part—using school instruments and relying on our educators to get us to the level of artistic excellence where we can be going on tour and be professionals—that’s special to us,” LaMoure said. “We love hearing from audience members if they did clarinet or flute in their school band. I think it’s something that resonates with a lot of people”
For Sutter, keeping ticket prices low through sponsorships from area donors and foundations is an essential part of keeping concerts accessible as they gain a regional audience.
“These are the same performers who perform at the Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap. … The price makes [the series] very accessible,” Sutter said.
The Waterford Concert Series kicks off Saturday, Sept. 25 at 5 p.m. with a concert from the Dover Quartet. The WindSync concert is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 14 at 4 p.m.
Tickets are $35 for adults ($40 for the April concert) and $15 for students. Season subscriptions are $150 for adults and $50 for students. Early purchase is recommended as seating is limited. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours is required for admission. At-home tests will be accepted. Masks are also required.
To view the full season and purchase tickets, go to waterfordconcertseries.org.
For more information about WindSync and to explore recorded performances, go to windsync.org.