• CEORA WINDS

  • Welcome

    Christin Webb, Heather Millette, Michelle Matsumune

     

    In January 2016, Ceora Winds' clarinetist Heather Millette was appointed Co-Principal Clarinet of the Orquestra Sinfonica de Guanajuato in Mexico. As a result of this wonderful news, Ceora Winds has had to disband and the members have moved on to new musical adventures.

     

    But, good news!! The critically acclaimed album Postcards is available to purchase on CD Baby and iTunes.

  • POSTCARDS

    Purchase our album "POSTCARDS" by clicking below:

    CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE "POSTCARDS"
  • Colin Clarke,

    Fanfare Magazine

    "Ceora Winds has produced a beautifully life-affirming disc of charming wind music....Performances throughout are of the uppermost calibre, and the recording is first-class. Recommended."

    Daniel Coombs,

    Audiophile Audition

    "...alternately playful and dreamlike and altogether attractive.

    Ryan D. Romine,

    The Double Reed

    "A very fine first album...the music making is heartfelt and beautifully tender....the players shed any hint of self-consciousness and truly and consistently shine."

    Kara Dahl Russell,

    Delmarva Public Radio

    "My Delight of the Week! Their musical selections are so good that it would be easy to overlook their beautiful sound production... so take a moment to sit back and appreciate the full complexity of their individual and group accomplishment on this CD."

  • Matt Snyder, Heather Millette, TJ Troy

    Album Notes

    Featuring:

    T.J. Troy, percussion

     

    Produced by:

    Ceora Winds

    Matthew Snyder

    Jenni Brandon

    1. Les Tisserandes

    (The Weavers)

    Mat Matsumune (b. 1961)

     

    In 1996, Michelle was asked to play flute for the opening of an art exhibit at the Southwest Museum of the American Indian in Los Angeles. The works of Native American women weavers were being featured at this exhibit, curated by Rebecca Hernandez, a friend of composer (and Michelle's husband!) Mat Matsumune. Mat decided to write a short solo flute piece for Michelle to play at the opening, inspired by the idea of weaving as an art form. In 1997, after moving to France to study with composer Eugene Kurtz, Mat Matsumune expanded on the piece and completed it as a flute and piano composition, entitling it “Les Tisserandes,” which means The Weavers. That version was premiered by Michelle in Paris in 1997. The trio version began in 1999 for flute, oboe and bassoon, but later became the flute, clarinet and bassoon version that you hear here.

     

    2-6. Carteles

    Originally written for piano solo

    Miguel Bernal Jiménez (1910-1956)

    Arranged by Trío de Alientos Revueltas

     

    I. Volantín (Kite or Carousel)

    The more common meaning of volantín is "kite" -- but I've read a description of this piece where volantín can also mean the rudimentary carousel you find in children's playgrounds. I like this definition better, but I suppose "kite" could work, also. This piece definitley depicts a playground scene because you can hear the univeral playground theme song: "nyah nyah!" played in the beginning by the flute and clarinet. The middle section is when the children get on the carousel and run around until their feet lift off the ground...OR this could also be where they play with their kites that lift off the ground. Either way, they return to teasing each other on the playground until the end of the piece.

     

    II. Sandunga

    Sandunga is a traditional Oaxacan Waltz. It also means charm, wit, and all things feminine. (Perhaps this is why it suits Heather's clarinet playing so well!)

     

    III. Pordioseros (Beggars)

    You can hear the sadness and desolation in this piece.

     

    IV. Hechicería (Witchcraft)

    The alternating duple vs. triple rhythms and modal harmonies give this piece a mystical feel.

     

    V. Parangaricutirimícuaro

    This word is part of a Mexcian tongue-twister. Bernal Jiménez turned it into a finger twister for the pianist and now for Michelle on flute!

     

    7. Prairie Dawn

    Amy Jo Duell (1959-2010)

    Completed by her husband, composer Enrique Gonzalez-Medina, soon after her death.

    After the poem by Willa Cather

    Featuring Melissa Chalsma, Artistic Director of the Independent Shakespeare Company

     

    Amy Jo Duell spent most of her career living and composing in Sierra Madre, California with her husband, composer Enrique Gonzales Medina. When I met the pair, we were all teaching at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music, and we became fast friends. Now I've noticed, as a clarinetist, that when I befriend a composer, she suddenly begins writing more music for the clarinet. So, over the years, Jo would occasionally hand me a piece of music to play. Her music was often hauntingly beautiful and always a treat.

     

    In 2010, Jo passed away at the age of 50. When Enrique was sorting through her papers, he found a score for Prairie Dawn. Jo had fully written it on a grand staff, and was just beginning to score it for flute, clarinet, and bassoon! Enrique completed the work himself and gave it to me. I know in my heart that she meant for this piece to be for Ceora Winds. It is truly a gift I received from a friend who is already gone, and every time we play it, I think of her.

     

    Prairie Dawn is inspired by a poem by Willa Cather of the same name. It evokes a sunrise in the Great Plains and is both peaceful and poignantly reminiscent at the same time. I always like to recite the poem when we play the piece live, but on this recording we borrowed the voice of the amazing Shakespearean actress, Melissa Chalsma.

     

    Giant thanks to both Melissa and Enrique, and of course, Jo!

     

    (— Heather)

     

    8-12. Spider Suite

    Jenni Brandon (b. 1977)

     

    I was commissioned in 2010 by the California Association of Professional Music Teachers to write a new chamber work for their state conference. What I wanted to write was something both programmatic and spoke of my love of nature and the natural world. Spiders are incredible in their work as weavers of webs, and I thought their story would translate well into music.

     

    The whole work tells the story of the adventures of a spider and her daily activities. We are first introduced to the world of spiders through the fast and many-legged theme in “Along came a spider…,” full of skittering, racing, and lurking. In movement two a young spider takes flight – baby spiders will spin a balloon out of silk and fly away from their mother’s web to embark on their own journey, letting the wind take them wherever it might. I thought the bassoon’s lyrical quality could tell this story of the spider floating away.

     

    Our spider lands gently and immediately begins to make her web in “Spinning Song.” Once the web is spun, it is time to wait for dinner to come along. Our spider (represented by the clarinet) dances “A Wicked Waltz,” laughing manically as she waits for the “Happy Bug (unsuspecting)” to get stuck in her web. As the bug flies and sings, he gets increasingly stuck in the web – listen as the trills in the piccolo become more and more frequent as he is unable to free himself from the spider’s web. In the final movement the spider reflects on her day (flying, spinning, and hunting…), tearing down her web, as spiders often do, to begin again the next day.

     

    I am so grateful to Ceora Winds for making the first professional recording of this work and for being included on their debut CD. And I hope the next time you see a spider on a web, you’ll take a few moments to admire their delicate and incredible work!

     

    (—Jenni Brandon)

     

    13-17. Fragments

    Robert Muczynski (1929-2010)

     

    Robert Muczynski was an American composer from Chicago, who spent much of his career at the University of Arizona as Professor and Head of Composition. He was also a gifted pianist who, at the age of 29, gave a Carnegie Hall recital concert consisting of all his own piano compositions.

     

    The piece Fragments for Woodwind Trio was written in 1958 and is made up of five very concise pieces: Waltz, Solitude, Holiday, Reverie, Exit. Each piece seems to represent a moment in a typical American lifestyle – for example, Waltz recalls a first dance, where the dancers stumble a bit and then get back on; and Holiday, which sounds like a hectic Fourth of July picnic, complete with bees buzzing around. We think this is a great companion piece to the five movement Carteles, which captures images of life in Mexico.

     

    We were disappointed to learn that just as we were memorizing Fragments and performing it in many of our concerts, Muczynski passed away of leukemia (in 2010). We wish we had gotten to talk to him about his piece, or had the chance to perform it for him.

     

    18. Ceora

    Lee Morgan (1938-1972)

    Arranged by David Hill

     

    This beautiful piece obviously holds a special place in our hearts. Heather and I played this piece in a quartet many years ago with Heather's husband, Harold Aschmann (horn), and our dear friend Tom Williams (tenor sax). Tom's arrangement of the piece was fantastic and fun, making it one of our favorite pieces to perform.

     

    After forming Ceora Winds, I tried my hand at arranging the song for our trio -- but to no avail. While talking to my good (and extremely talented) friend, woodwind doubler and composer Dave Hill, I mentioned my frustration at not being able to arrange Ceora successfully for its namesake ensemble. He agreed that it was an impossible task.

     

    A week later I received a phone message from Dave declaring that, unbeknownst to me, he had been working steadily on a Ceora arrangement for us and that it was almost finished!

     

    We love this arrangement because it doesn't try to recreate Lee Morgan's recording of Ceora, but rather explores the beautiful melodies of the song. The result is a musing on Ceora that stays true to the voices of our instruments, giving each of us a chance to sing.

     

    (—Christin)

     

    19-23. Cinco Canciones Para Niños

    Silvestre Revueltas (1899-1940)

    Arranged by Trío Alientos de Revueltas

     

    This piece was originally written as a set of songs for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra. The songs are settings of popular children's poems, mainly by the famous Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. Especially well-known is "El Lagarto" which is memorized by all Spanish elementary school children. (Look it up on YouTube! Hundreds of adorable Spanish children dressed in white aprons recite the poem.)

     

     

    24. Oblivion

    Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)

    Arranged by Christin Webb

     

    I arranged this piece after falling in love with it and obsessing over all of the numerous versions of it available online. I stumbled across a video of a piano version by Vika Yermolyeva, and was struck by how perfectly she captured the mood and pacing of the piece. In fact, I was so impressed that I used her version as a launching pad for the version I arranged for the trio. (Please click on her name above to visit her webpage and hear more of her truly inspired piano arrangements and performances!)

     

    (—Christin)

     

    25. El Choclo

    Ángel Villoldo (1861-1919)

    Arranged by Daniel Kelley

     

    El Choclo is perhaps the most famous Argentine tango. This arrangement shows off Michelle's lovely lyrical flute playing.

     

    Read more here about how this beautiful tango received it's rather unusual name....

     

    26. My Funny Valentine

    Richard Rodgers (music) & Lorenz Hart (lyrics)

    Arranged by Christin Webb

     

    This is one of my absolute favorite songs, so it was my first foray into arranging for the trio. Once I began, I realized I would be able to make whatever changes I wanted, so first I changed the meter to a jazz waltz (one of my favorite forms), and then I gave the bassoon the melody!

    I was also heavily influenced by my favorite recording of this song by Chet Baker. (This was recorded two weeks before Chet died....prepare to shed a tear.)

     

    When we started performing with T.J. Troy, he decided to accompany the song on tabla -- how cool is that?? -- and it still blows me away how well it works.

     

    (—Christin)

     

    27. Doodley-Doo

    28. Linguine

    Ray Pizzi (b. 1943)

     

    "Having followed Ray Pizzi's legendary career as a multi-instrumentalist, his admirers must now consider him as a serious and talented composer."

    Leonard Feather, L.A. Times

     

    Doodley-Doo is a charming jazz waltz -- once you sing along to the melody, the title of the piece makes sense!

     

    Linguine is fun for the trio because we get to try our hand at something a bit jazzy. It is especially fun for me because of the bassoon "easter eggs" that Ray has masterfully placed in the piece. Listen up for the two famous bassoon excerpts that make special appearances!

    (This one and then this one!)

     

    (—Christin)

     

  • Michelle Matsumune

    flute

    Hailed as “possessing rich, mellow flute playing, lovely lyrical style, and excellent breath control” by ClassicsToday.com, flutist Michelle Matsumune is a fourth generation Californian and a lover of chamber music. In addition to concertizing with Ceora Winds, she has released two CDs with the Resonance Flute Consort, and performs as singer and flautist for the choral group The Wagner Ensemble. With the flute and harp group Duo Arioso, Michelle released a CD of Medieval music, entitled Cantico, to critical acclaim. As a soloist, Michelle has performed flute concerts in Europe, Mexico, and throughout the United States, and at music festivals in Mexico City and Geneva, Switzerland. She toured as the featured soloist with the Southern California Balinese Gamalan Group, and has worked closely with many contemporary composers including James Tenney, Eugene Kurtz, Adrienne Albert and Nancy Bloomer-Deussen. She is married to composer Mat Matsumune, and has premiered all of his flute works. Michelle studied flute with Peter Lloyd at Indiana University, received her MFA with Rachel Rudich at California Institute of the Arts, and also spent a year in Paris working with flutist Craig Goodman. She is the Woodwind Coach for the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra and teaches privately.

     

    To purchase Michelle’s CDs, click on the links below:

     

    Duo Arioso “Cantico”

     

    Resonance Flute Consort “A Flute Tootin’ Yule”

     

    Resonance Flute Consort “Lights, Camera, Flutes!”

     

    Heather Millette

    clarinet

    Heather Millette, clarinet, is the Co-Principal Clarinet with the Orquestra Sinfonica de Guanajuato, and Second Clarinet with the San Bernardino Symphony. She studied at the Oberlin Conservatory and received her masters in Music Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music. She served on the music faculty of the Pasadena Conservatory of Music where she taught clarinet, was the Chair of the Winds, Brass & Percussion Department, and created the Zukovsky Clarinet Competition. Previously she taught at the Master's College and Long Beach City College. An active chamber musician, Heather is a founding member Ceora Winds and has been an affiliated artist with the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity, where she performed with the resident ensemble Synergy. In addition, Heather has played with orchestras in many Latin American cities, including Aguascalientes, Monterrey, and Culiacan.

    Christin Webb

    bassoon

    Bassoonist Christin Webb, who is praised for her “perfectly even fast articulations and rich even tone” by The Double Reed, is a freelance chamber and orchestral musician based in Southern California. Originally from Fairfax County, Virginia, Christin relocated to Los Angeles after attending the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. Since then she has been freelancing with local orchestras including Kaleidoscope, the Long Beach Symphony, Thousand Oaks Philharmonic, Santa Cecilia Orchestra and San Bernardino Symphony. As a member of Ceora Winds, Christin performed extensively across Southern California, and can be heard on the trio's album “Postcards.” Christin was also featured playing bassoon and contrabassoon on the critically acclaimed album by Jenni Olson, “The Dreams of Birds,” released on the Delos label. In addition to her busy performance schedule, Christin maintains a private teaching studio, and she is in the process of publishing her chamber music arrangements. She holds degrees in music performance from Indiana University and the Peabody Conservatory, where her principal teachers were Sidney Rosenberg and Linda Harwell; she has also studied at the University of Southern California with Stephen Maxym and Judith Farmer.