Music: Up Close Classical

High-quality classical music doesn’t have to involve formalwear and concert halls. Chamber Music Hawai’i, a group of three ensembles–the Galliard String Quartet, Honolulu Brass Quintet and the Spring Wind Quintet–have put together another year of intimate concerts for small venues.

Honolulu’s Spring Wind Quintet recently toured to New York City. photo: courtesy of Jonathan Parrish

Now in its 23rd year, Chamber Music Hawai’i began with the Spring Wind Quintet (SWQ) a group of five professional musicians who also play with the Honolulu Symphony. Within a year, the other ensembles had joined the group.

This month, SWQ is performing at Windward Community College and the Honolulu Academy of Arts. SWQ musicians–flutist Susan McGinn, oboist Scott Janusch, clarinetist James Moffitt, Jonathan Parrish, horn, and bassoonist Marsha Schweitzer–are determined to make their music approachable. Playing informal settings on tour and in the Islands allows for audience interaction. “We try to tell the audience about our pieces,” Parrish says. “We enjoy playing the music and we want people to have the same feelings while listening.”

SWQ recently made its New York and Norway debuts. In New York, the group played for a cozy crowd at the Peter Norton Symphony Space on 95th and Broadway. Next, it was off to Norway, where they entertained at the home of the U.S. Ambassador to Norway John Doyle Ong. Their featured selections, “Hawai’i Pono’i” and “Aloha ‘Oe,” became instant audience favorites.

Now back at home, the quintet has compiled selections from popular composers Samuel Barber, Arvo Pärt, Franz Danzi and David Maslanka for this month’s concerts. “All the pieces are light and playful and rather exciting,” says bassoonist Schweitzer. “They’re all classical, so you have to pay attention, but hopefully the rewards will be great. They’re thought-provoking.”