Discourses in Music: Volume 4 Number 3 (Summer 2003)

In Response to Drew Stephen's "The Wind Quintet in Canada: Legacy and Promise"

By Sam King

The section of shelf dedicated to woodwind quintet repertoire in the Canadian Music Centre National Library in Toronto, currently houses some 118 sets of scores and parts. Listing them in the on-line catalogue gives but a hint of what to expect on the pages of these 20th century works. A duration there, a date of composition here, perhaps even a note about the commissioner of the work will be found there. This intimidating thicket of music waits for the neophyte. Where to start? What to look for?

Drew Stephens has become our pathfinder, following in the steps of historical Canadian woodwind ensembles. His catalogue presents us with a guide to this relatively new repertoire. His short history of prominent Canadian ensembles is perhaps a guide of its own to players in woodwind ensemble today, who are his principal audience. The rest of the article is a list of commissioned works and a discography organized by his selected ensembles.

Stephens has, in a relatively short article, provided us with a valuable resource for exploring the Canadian woodwind repertoire. The ensembles themselves have left a valuable legacy of recordings and his discography presents us with a simple method of evaluating and choosing repertoire: listening.

This kind of guide is the tool needed to open up to musicians the music, scores and recordings that lie hidden in the Canadian Music Centre and other music libraries across Canada. There are many waiting to be discovered, waiting to disprove a statement attributed to Canadian composer Quenten Doolittle: "A premiere is where a composer goes to hear his music played for the first, and last time."

Attached are some further resources for Canadian woodwind ensemble repertoire including Laurie Glencross' unpublished dissertation, "An Annotated Bibliography of Woodwind Quintet Music by Canadian Composers", which she compiled in 2000. This is an in-depth study of the repertoire evaluating among other things, level of difficulty, musical style and effectiveness in performance. Glencross has followed the example set in the John Adaskin Project series of guides to Canadian repertoire. Also attached is a list of recent recordings of woodwind ensemble repertoire, some of which may fall outside the scope of Stephens' article.


  • 2002. Composer Portraits: John Weinzweig, Centrediscs/Centredisques, CMCCD 8002
    including: John Weinzweig "Woodwind Quintet", Toronto Woodwind Quintet (Nicholas Fiore, flute; Perry Bauman, oboe; Stanley McCartney, clarinet; Eugene Rittich, horn; Nicholas Kilburn, bassoon
  • 2002. Ovation, Vol. 2, CBC/SRC, PSCD 2026-5
    including: John Adaskin "Woodwind quintet No. 1", Bergen Woodwind Quintet Harry Freedman, Tikki Tikki Tembo, Lorien Woodwind Quintet, Rod Coneybeare, narrator
  • 2001. The Adaskin Collection Volume 5, [AdLar], MM105
    including: John Adaskin, "Woodwind quintet No. 1", Bergen Woodwind Quintet John Adaskin, "Woodwind quintet No. 2", Bergen Woodwind Quintet
  • 2003. Gathered Evidence, Artifact music, ART-028
    including: Peter Hatch, "Endangered Worlds", Canadian Chamber Ensemble (Wind Sextet)
  • 2003. Canadian Composer Portraits: Talivaldis Kenins
    including: Talivaldis Kenins, "Quintet"[1983], William Aide, Piano, Cynthia Steljes, oboe; Gwillym Williams, clarinet; Harcus Hennigar, horn; Gerald Robinson, bassoon (York Winds players)


  • Glencross, Laurie, "An Annotated Bibliography of Woodwind Quintet Music by Canadian Composers" Ph.D. diss., Florida State University, 2000.