Premiere of new works to include tribute to Chinese railroad workers

Imani Winds
October 19, 2022

Rescheduled Imani Winds concert set for Nov. 6

By Lee Juillerat for the Ashland.news

They’re trying again.

A concert featuring Grammy-nominated Imani Winds that was scheduled last spring at the Ashland Railroad Park but was cancelled because of Covid-19 has been rescheduled for 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, at First United Methodist Church, 175 N. Main St.

The program will feature the program originally planned by Imani Winds featuring three new works commissioned by Pacific Northwest composers, including Yuan-Chen Li, who has written a new piece of music specifically about the Chinese-built Oregon railroad called, “A Railroad to Dreams.”

Li said the composition “pays tribute to Northwest Asian railroad workers in the Northwest who perished or were expelled in the 19th century. The momentum of the music depicts the intense labor, the dangerous nature of the construction, the sense of teamwork, the horror of political exclusion, and the yearning for building new lives for themselves and their family.”

According to Ethan Gans-Morse, executive director for the Phoenix, Oregon-based Anima Mundi Productions, “Yuan-Chen Li was incredibly enthusiastic about bringing this premiere to Ashland.”

He said the Imani Winds concert as part of Anima Mundi’s goal to “commission new works by Pacific Northwest composers of color that offer new perspectives into our region’s history and new hope for the region’s future” through a partnership with the Portland-based Chamber Music Northwest and the Eugene-based Oregon Bach Festival.

The upcoming Imani Winds concert is seen as a step in achieving those goals and offering audiences high-quality music. The Washington Post, for example, described Imani Winds as “dazzling” and “exhilarating.”

Gans-Morse echoed those comments, saying Imani Winds “have led both a revolution and evolution of the wind quintet through their dynamic playing, adventurous programming, and imaginative collaborations over their two decades of music making. In 2016, Imani Winds received their greatest accolade in their 20 years of music-making: a permanent presence in the classical music section of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.”

Tickets for the program range from $25 to $39, or $10 for students and $5 for Oregon Trail Card holders, at the door. Because the concert is at the church, people can select a section but not a seat. Seating within each section will be on a first-come first-served basis. A seating chart is available at Anima Mundi Productions website, animamundiproductions.com/tickets/.

The May 1 “We Cannot Walk Alone” concert was postponed because, according to Gans-Morse, “We discovered literally two hours before the concert that three of the five performers had just tested positive for Covid.”

Along with rescheduling the Imani Winds concert, Gans-Morse explained, “We’ve gone full steam ahead with our 2022-23 season, which apart from this rescheduled concert is entirely focused on women musicians performing the music of women composers.” Upcoming productions in 2023 include In Mulieribus, a female vocal ensemble, on March 12, and The Uptown String Quartet” on May 7, both at 3 p.m. at the Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall.

Anima Mundi “refers to our conviction that the soul of humanity and the fate of the planet are intertwined; we seek to heal the soul of the world through the arts by providing experiences that bring people into their hearts and imagination, demonstrate the power of beauty and heal societal wounds through the share experience of live music.”

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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