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Dulu Quintet reaches 200 years into the past for Whistler concert

Made up of players from the Vancouver Symphony, group will play iconic pieces by Mozart and BeethovenĀ 
E-Arts2 Dulu Quintet 29.19 SUBMITTED
The Dulu Quintet will be playing two of the most iconic pieces ever written for a woodwind quintet this Sunday, May 15 at the Maury Young Arts Centre.

Every classically trained musician at some point in time gets schooled on the greats of yore: the Beethovens and the Mozarts and the Bachs of the world. These musical giants have, for generations, loomed large over the genre, to the point that they have overshadowed more contemporary composers. 

But, of course, there is a reason their works remain relevant to this day. 

“The reason it’s such a trip to play a repertoire from 200, 300 years ago is that it’s so extraordinary and so exceptional. It’s the same as being an actor and continuing to perform Shakespeare. We do this because it’s great and it should not disappear,” says Beth Orson, one fifth of the Dulu Piano and Wind Quintet, which plays the Maury Young Arts Centre on Sunday, May 15. “Of course we’re well versed in it, we all went to music school and we all know this stuff. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t do that. It will affect you. It’s the beauty of the melodies, just the way the instruments blend together. Now I’m going to start to cry. It never isn’t great.”

Oboist Orson joins titular pianist Bogdan Dulu in the quintet, along with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra players Michelle Goddard on clarinet, Julia Lockhart on bassoon, and Andrew Mee on French horn. At the Whistler concert, the group will be playing two of the most iconic pieces ever written for a wind quintet: Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Winds in E flat Major, one of the composer’s favourites, and Beethoven’s Quintet in E-Flat for Piano and Winds

Both numbers are unusual in their own ways: Mozart’s for the prominence he gives the woodwinds, a section not accustomed to taking the lead, and Beethoven’s for its virtuosic, singular piano playing. (As the story goes, when Beethoven premiered the piece in 1797, our boy Ludwig went off on a long, improvised piano solo, as he was wont to do, reportedly enraging the wind players, who had no clue when to come in.) 

“Wind players in Mozart piano concertos, especially later ones, are very much soloists in the orchestra. Often the piano will introduce a melody and then it will be passed over to the players in the wind section, so it’s very much a collaborative experience,” Orson explains. “It is incredible writing. It’s so brilliant. It’s like listening to an opera because he gives the winds solo lines that could be sung—and they’re very, very operatic. There are huge leaps going from high to low, the kinds of things a virtuosic singer would have been expected to do in a Mozart opera.” 

Speaking of which, the quintet will also be playing another Mozart number, an operatic aria originally written for a singer that bassoonist Lockhart adapted for the winds. (Here’s where I should note to the sticklers out there that the French horn is, uh, not a woodwind. Orson says that’s just how the group’s makeup panned out. Deal with it.) 

But it’s not just the classics the quintet is taking on this weekend. The group will also be playing a fun, rock-and-roll-themed movement from contemporary Canadian composer Bill Douglas that Orson calls “a riot.” 

And for those who may be daunted by the stuffy stigma sometimes associated with classical icons like Beethoven and Mozart, Orson wants to put your mind at ease. 

“Most people are used to going to an orchestra concert and hearing a violin or cello solo, but to hear them in a chamber music setting like this where we’re featured as individual players in music that is so listenable, I just think it’s something really special,” she says. “This is not going to be difficult; this is easy listening. All of it is beautiful music.” 

The Dulu Quintet hits the Maury Young stage on May 15 at 5 p.m. Doors at 4:30. Tickets are $25 for adults, and $20 for youth under 20, available at