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Mixed Company is written by Saint Paul Sunday staff, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the show and the classical music they love. We welcome your online comments.

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February 24, 2006

Joyful sounds

I'll be honest. Making radio is a cool job. But public radio budgets don't allow for huge production staffs and each one of us on Saint Paul Sunday pulls more than our own weight. That's why when it comes to booking musicians for the show, we ask one question out loud: "Are they interesting musicians?" and a quieter one among ourselves: "Yeah, but are they any fun?" The answer to both questions for the Imanis is a resounding "yes!"

These are musicians who are filled with joy. There is a clear "vibe" about them that you don't encounter with many other chamber groups, even ones who play beautifully together. Whether it's Valerie Coleman's arrangement of the spiritual "Steal Away" or a more traditional work from the classical catalogue, you'll hear that joyful vibe in their voices and their music.

As our country celebrates Black History Month, I want to ask another question. A few months ago, guest host Brian Newhouse asked how race mattered in classical music, whether onstage or in the audience. The Imanis describe themselves as an "African American/Latino" ensemble and it's clear from their repertoire and projects that their heritage is vital to their music. I've witnessed pure white crowds in central Minnesota stand up for this quintet's performances with little regard for descriptions. So…does it matter?

Posted by Mary Lee at February 24, 2006 3:05 PM



I agree with Claire that Imani's sound is wonderful. And if we still can ask the question: "Does race matter?", then it does and it will (at least in classical music) for the forseeable future--perhaps two or three generations. As for me, I'm actually more concerned with the dearth of whites in the jazz scene, so at least there's parity out there.

My young nieces (11 & 13) are young musicians. I'm going to make sure they've got the Imani's CDs in their collection.

John Niesyn

By John Niesyn at February 26, 2006 7:12 PM


Thanks so much for today's program. It was mesmerizing. Imani Winds is amazing. The intriguing mix of music is pure genius. I immediately ordered the CD and can't wait to hear this music again. Keep up the excellent programming!!!!!!!!!!!

By Dorothy Brogan at February 26, 2006 8:11 PM