Meet Class Notes Artists: Dolce Wind Quintet

by Claire Philpott, Minnesota Public Radio
January 22, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Dolce Wind Quintet has been performing for everything from weddings to social receptions since 1995. Each member has an enormous binder of music stuffed with arrangements of classical, popular and holiday music as well wind quintet literature. Not its first time working with MPR, the quintet has been featured most recently in 2013 at the Edina Galleria Holiday Open House hosted by Lynne Warfel, and at the MPR State Fair booth as a featured Classical MPR live performance. All of the members teach private lessons as well as play in other ensembles, including the Bloomington Symphony, the Mississippi Valley Orchestra, the Mankato Symphony Orchestra and the Lake Wobegon Brass Band.

In just 45 minutes, Dolce presents an impressively wide range of repertoire, ranging from a French Renaissance madrigal to African-American composer William Grant Still's Folk Suite No. 4 featuring South American folk music. While there are examples of the well-known Handel and Mozart, some of the composers featured are fairly obscure (unless you are a music history buff), like French 20th-century composer Claude Arrieu — a female composer of many talents beyond composing, such as teaching and radio producing — or composer Pierre Passereau, who wrote many popular chansons, including the still fairly recognizable Il est bel et bon in the mid-16th century.

With each member of the Dolce Wind Quintet talking about the specific workings of his or her respective instrument (including a ribbon stretched out to demonstrate how long a French horn would be if it was unwound — something kids always find fascinating) interspersed with short pieces or musical excerpts, the quintet covers a lot of musical ground.

Dolce was able to share its knowledge in a more intimate setting with the band students at Saint Paul Music Academy in a short master class held after the full-school performance. Thirteen 4th and 5th graders in their first or second years studying a woodwind, brass or percussion instrument had the opportunity to hear the quintet play further selections, ask questions and receive some very sound advice necessary for beginning wind players (e.g. breathing deeply and controlling that breath properly is VERY important if you want to become a fine wind player, and having good posture is essential to achieve this end!).

The kids' eyes were wide as they listened to the quintet, and the quintet in turn related very well to its impressionable audience. See photos from this master class in the slide show, taken by MPR's Nate Ryan.

Here is what members of Dolce had to say about giving educational performances:

"I enjoy educational performances because the students' energy, optimism, and curiosity fairly vibrate in the room. Being a Class Notes Artists ensemble for MPR gives Dolce Wind Quintet a way to encourage or ignite musical sparks in the next generation of musicians and listeners, passing on the legacy of the teachers and performers who inspired each of us as young musicians. My favorite part is performing for and talking with children who are at that tender stage during which they freely express enthusiasm and bravely try new things — such as playing musical instruments! As they listen, ask questions, wave goodbye and say thanks, the light in their eyes — at once direct and vulnerable — is a priceless reminder that music is one of the greatest gifts we can share heart-to-heart with others." — Karen Hansen, clarinet

"I do educational performances to see the joy and wonder on the faces of the children as they are presented with the new experiences of seeing and hearing our instruments. I do it because I have music inside of me, musical knowledge, and this music must be shared; why keep it in?!" — Nancy Wucherpfennig, flute

"There is a satisfaction that comes when playing music for a group of students. Their energy and excitement is infectious and always results in a unique and memorable performance. Playing school programs gives us the chance to introduce our instruments and the sounds they make at a personal level with the children and we know it leaves a lasting impression on all of us." — Vicki Wheeler, French horn

"There's something so personal about making music with a small chamber ensemble. It's like playing in a bubble that's filled with shared energy and passion, where you communicate with one another on a level that transcends spoken words. With this program, we have the opportunity to expand that bubble to include hundreds of children who may not otherwise get to experience that kind of music. Hopefully we're helping to inspire the next generation of classical musicians!" — Megan Dvorak, Oboe


  • G.F. Handel: Water Music Suite No. 1 in F Major, HWV 348 — IX. Hornpipe
  • W.A. Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622 — II. Adagio
  • William Grant Still: Folk Suite No. 4 — El Monigote (Venezuela)
  • William Grant Still: Folk Suite No. 4 — Anda buscando de rosa en rosa (Mexico)
  • William Grant Still: Folk Suite No. 4 — Tayeras (Brazil)


  • Kaposia Education Center — South Saint Paul, Minn.
  • Whittier International Elementary — Minneapolis
  • Saint Paul Music Academy — Saint Paul, Minn.
  • Groveland Park Elementary — Saint Paul, Minn.
  • Clover Ridge Elementary — Chaska, Minn.
  • Nokomis Montessori, North Campus — Saint Paul, Minn.
  • Noble Elementary — Golden Valley, Minn.

About the Classical MPR Class Notes Artists program this year

Now in its fifth year, the Class Notes Artists program at Classical MPR brings performers to elementary schools throughout the state of Minnesota to give educational concerts. Each performance includes a presentation about the Artists' respective instruments, as well as the style, technique, history, and traditions related to the music that they perform.

The Artists are selected for the quality of their musicianship, and for their interest in promoting music education. This year, the following Artists will collectively travel to over 50 schools in four different geographical hubs.

  • Lyz Jaakola — Greater Bemidji area

  • Silver Spruce Duo — Duluth, Cloquet, and the North Shore
  • Dolce Wind Quintet — Twin Cities
  • Artaria String Quartet — Twin Cities
  • Minneapolis Guitar Quartet — Twin Cities
  • Vecchione/Erdahl Duo — Twin Cities
  • Odelia Trio — Rochester

These performances are supported by Minnesota music education standards-based curriculum designed by Classical MPR's Curriculum Specialist. These lessons and activities are given to music teachers in advance of each Artist's visit, and are to be used as learning materials for before and/or after each performance.

Students at participating schools will also receive an MPR-produced compilation CD featuring the year's Artists, allowing students to experience a wide range of different musical styles and ensembles. The 2013-14 album, A Musical History Tour is also available to stream online.

Classical MPR's goal for the Class Notes Artist program is to create authentic and transformative experiences for young pupils that will inspire their creative pursuits, and be a meaningful addition to what they are already learning from their music teachers.

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Melissa Ousley
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