Two leading contemporary chamber ensembles join forces for an absorbing program highlighting the experience of migration. Transforming ancestral stories into music, the Catalyst Quartet and Imani Winds perform “(im)migration: music of change” at the Moss Arts Center on Thursday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m.

The performance will be held in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.

(im)migration: music of change” features music written or inspired by migrants and immigrants from the African and Latin diaspora. The evening includes Imani Winds performing an arrangement of Cuban composer Mongo Santamaria’s popular Jazz standard “Afro Blue,” while the Catalyst Quartet performs “Negro Folksongs in Counterpoint” by Florence B. Price, the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, as well as the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra.

The ensembles join for “Concierto de Cámara” by American composer Roberto Sierra and “Sergeant McCauley,” a new work by composer and former Catalyst violinist Jessie Montgomery that tracks the journey of her great-grandfather during the Great Migration.

Montgomery’s “Sergeant McCauley” is inspired by personal family stories of the African-American migration during the early 1900s, around the time of World War I, from the lens of her great-grandfather. It strings together spirituals and work songs that reflect Sergeant McCauley’s route from Mississippi to the west, then up north, and eventually back to Georgia. The special timbral effects of this mix of strings and winds transforms the stories and their reflections into music. Montgomery carries on the storytelling tradition passed on by her mother, playwright, actor, and teacher Robbie McCauley.

In November 2020 the Moss Arts Center produced a New York City-based streaming educational matinee performance by Imani Winds and the Catalyst Quartet that was also broadcast by presenters in New York state and Seattle, Washington. This is the first in-person performance at the Moss Arts Center for both groups.

About Imani Winds

The Grammy-nominated Imani Winds has led both a revolution and the evolution of the wind quintet through its dynamic playing, adventurous programming, imaginative collaborations, and outreach work that has inspired audiences of all ages and backgrounds. The ensemble’s playlist embraces traditional chamber music repertoire, and as a 21st-century group, is devoutly committed to expanding the wind quintet repertoire by commissioning music from new voices that reflect historical events and current times.

Imani Winds regularly performs in prominent international concert venues and for major festivals and has released six albums, including its Grammy Award-nominated recording “The Classical Underground.” The quintet’s recent recording, “Bruits,” has received critical acclaim since its release in February 2021.

The ensemble launched its annual Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival in 2010 and received its greatest accolade in 2016: a permanent presence in the classical music section of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

About Catalyst Quartet

Featuring alumni from the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition, the Grammy Award-winning Catalyst Quartet believes in the unity that can be achieved through music and imagines its programs and projects with this in mind, redefining and reimagining the classical music experience.

Catalyst Quartet has toured widely throughout the United States and abroad, has been invited to perform by prominent music festivals, and was ensemble-in-residence at the Vail Dance Festival in 2016. The quartet played six concerts with jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant for Jazz at Lincoln Center and the subsequent recording won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album.

Highlights of upcoming collaborations include “Encuentros,” featuring a newly commissioned work by innovative Cuban composer Jorge Amado Molina and other voices from across the Cuban diaspora, and “CQ Minute,” a commissioning project of 10 miniature string quartets in commemoration of the quartet’s 10th anniversary. The Catalyst Quartet’s latest project is “UNCOVERED,” a multi-volume set of albums that celebrate beautifully crafted works by artists who have been overlooked and sidelined in classical music, especially because of their race or gender.

Catalyst Quartet combines a serious commitment to diversity and education with a passion for contemporary works. The ensemble serves as principal faculty at the Sphinx Performance Academy at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Curtis Institute of Music.

Related engagement events

Members of Catalyst Quartet and Imani Winds will perform excerpts from “(im)migration: music of change” in a free school-day performance for area public, private, and homeschool students in grades 4-8 on Wednesday, October 27, from 10-11 a.m.

In addition, Imani Winds will instruct Virginia Tech music students in winds technique during a class visit, while student musicians in strings and winds will have the opportunity to perform and receive coaching from members of Imani Winds and Catalyst Quartet in two concurrent master classes. Members from both ensembles will also meet with students in Virginia Tech’s two residential colleges.

Ticket information

Tickets for the performances are $20-45 for general public and $10 for Virginia Tech students. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

The Moss Arts Center adheres to the guidelines of the Virginia Department of Health and Virginia Tech in its operations, including protocols for face coverings and cleaning and sanitation. In accordance with current university policy for indoor events, all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to the Moss Arts Center are required to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. 

Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street for $5. Payment must be made in cash at the time of entry. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Virginia Tech has also partnered with ParkMobile to provide a convenient, contactless electronic payment option for parking, which may be used at any parking meter, campus parking space, or lot with standard F/S, C/G, or R parking.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Jonathan Boulter at least 10 business days prior to the event at 540-231-5300 or email during regular business hours.

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