MWQ at University of Texas at Arlington

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The Culmination of a Collaboration

After our November residency at Adams State University, the culmination of our collaboration took place today at the Colorado Music Educators Association convention in Colorado Springs, where we gave the world premiere of David Pierce’s El Ranchero with the Adams State Winds & Percussion Ensemble. The concert – featuring SEVEN world premieres written for Adams – was part of a bigger effort called the San Luis Valley Cultural Commissions Project.


In November 2016, we visited Adams State University in Alamosa, CO, for a four-day residency that included:

– a recording session for David Pierce’s El Ranchero with the Adams State Winds & Percussion Ensemble

– master classes with Adams State chamber ensembles

– one-on-one lessons for Adams State students with members of the Madera Wind Quintet

– an educational program at a local elementary school

– Madera Wind Quintet recital of works by by Latin American and South American composers, quintet standards and selections by Sean Friar and Don Gillis from the albums Five at Play (Crescent Phase Records, 2012) and Five Piece Combo (Ravello Records, 2015)

Madera Wind Quintet recital at Adams State University:

Madera Wind Quintet recital at Adams State University

Recording session for David Pierce’s El Ranchero:

Recording David Pierce's "El Ranchero" with the Adams State Band

Recording David Pierce's "El Ranchero" with the Adams State Band

Master classes with Adams State chamber groups:

Master classes with Adams State chamber groups

Wind quintet master class at Adams State
Madera Wind Quintet visit to Sargent Elementary School’s music class:

Madera Wind Quintet visit to Sargent Elementary School's music class

Madera Wind Quintet visit to Sargent Elementary School's music class


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MWQ Announces Residency at Adams State University

The Madera Wind Quintet will record a newly commissioned work for quintet and band, perform a quintet recital and give master classes and lessons in their residency at Adams State University November 14-17, 2016.


The new work, David J. Pierce’s El Ranchero, was commissioned by Adams State University along with several other works for soloists and band by composers including Jack Stamp and Jennifer Bellor. The Adams State Winds and Percussion will record each composition this fall, and then perform the works on January 26, 2017 at the Colorado Music Educators Association conference in Colorado Springs. This initiative is part of the Adams State University ETHOS project, which explores equity and diversity through music curriculum and programming. The works reflect the heritage, culture and geography of the San Luis Valley, home to Adams State in Alamosa, Colorado.

David J. Pierce is a native of South Texas whose previous commissions include work for the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors and Live Nation. He describes El Ranchero as follows:

The overall concept of El Ranchero was to depict the life of this rancher: the day-in-day-out, “fingers to the bone” hard work, coupled with the merriment and celebration of time spent with family and friends. While the main theme is a melancholy one, it is contrasted by the happier, livelier sections… hard work with “hard” play.

My mother’s side of the family is Hispanic, and only a generation from working out on the ranch. If I have learned one thing from my family’s stories or from my great uncle, Tío Pete, it is that the work is long, and the work is tough, but in that work lies a great sense of pride to counter its great pain. When the week draws to a close, there’s time for music and fun to wash away all the hardships of the daily work.

In this rancher’s world I see the San Luis Valley. I see the scrub grass and the chico brush, the sand dunes and the mountains, and imagine this rancher working from sunup to sundown, with the land’s intense and harsh beauty as his backdrop.  

During the November residency, Madera will record this work with the Adams State Winds and Percussion, present master classes and chamber music coaching, and work directly with the students in one-on-one lessons. On Wednesday, November 16, the Madera Wind Quintet will perform a full recital that is open to the public, featuring works by Latin American and South American composers along with quintet standards and selections by Sean Friar and Don Gillis from the albums Five at Play (Crescent Phase Records, 2012) and Five Piece Combo (Ravello Records, 2015).

dave-bioAbout David J. Pierce

David J. Pierce is a native of South Texas, and began his musical career playing piano at an early age, later moving to trombone in school bands. By sixteen, he was performing with various dance bands such as the Eddie Galvan Orchestra, motivating him to pursue his Bachelor’s of Music Education from the University of North Texas. Working as a freelance trombonist throughout his college years, David also led and co-led several Cuban-influenced bands, such as “Rob G y los LP’s,” “Norte de Havana,” and “Mi Son,” which have all won several Dallas and Fort Worth Music Awards from years 1999 – 2006. After earning his degree in music education from UNT, Mr. Pierce was hired at Southlake Carroll ISD, teaching all levels of music from beginning band to the 12th grade. In his 10 years of teaching in Southlake, Mr. Pierce helped to develop an award-winning jazz program, with nine total jazz groups at multiple levels.

David currently writes and arranges for numerous ensembles of varied styles and his works have been performed by orchestras, jazz groups, and symphonic bands across the country. Mr. Pierce has had works commissioned by professional touring and recording jazz bands, such as the Jazz Ambassadors. He has also written commercial jingles for Taco Bell, On The Border, and Neiman Marcus as well as freelance composition work for North, Moonbot, and Live Nation. In 2009, Mr. Pierce created an original Halloween musical review, “Cirque du Horror.” A true collaborator of the arts, he works alongside of many of the metroplex’s visual and performing artists to produce this original, ever evolving body of work that provides fun, frights and merriment for the whole family. Pierce also acts as the arranger and musical director for the Denton’s Holiday Lighting Festival, where he collaborates with Denton musicians of just about every genre to feature their original take on holiday songs. The musical partnerships continue to present day, as David teams up with everyone from big band entertainers to Indie Rock icons like Tim Delaughter from the Polyphonic Spree as well as the Baptist Generals, with whom he recently composed and arranged 4 orchestral pieces for their recent album released on Sub Pop Records in 2013. Currently, he lives quite happily with his wife Jessica in Denton, Tx, where he writes, plays and privately teaches music.

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Reviewers Have High Praise for Five Piece Combo 

POP QUIZ: According to reviewers, our album of music by Don Gillis is:

a. “sheer enjoyment”
b. “expertly rehearsed”
c. “a welcome addition to recorded wind quintet music”
d. “some of the most engaging music in this genre”
e. “a delight from start to finish”
f.  all of the above

The correct answer is “f”! We are so thrilled that critics and colleagues enjoy this music as much as we do. Six months later, we’re still hearing from folks who are listening to Five Piece Combo and loving it. If you haven’t heard it yet, be sure to…



Praise for Five Piece Combo:

“[T]he composer’s three suites for wind quintet are skillfully crafted and chock-full of fun, especially in the Madera Wind Quintet’s expertly rehearsed, mostly idiomatic performances. … On the whole, this enchanting disc ought to drum up interest in Gillis’ suites among woodwind players.”

— Jed Distler (Classics Today)


“One challenge with wind quintets (as opposed to string or brass groups) is that the instruments are not truly in the same family, as they produce tone in such disparate ways. That can make for an awkward blend, both in volume and sound. The Madera Wind Quintet has solved these differences neatly, with an attractive, homogenous sound and meticulously matched articulation and phrasing. The individual players show technical strength and stylistic versatility and play solo roles with aplomb. This enjoyable disc is recommended for wind quintet fans looking for something light, accessible, and little known.”

— American Record Guide (May/June 2016)


“Wind quintet pieces, jazz and folk tinged, very American. Play!”



“This interesting CD is a welcome addition to recorded wind quintet music. … The definite Jazz style work of ‘Five Piece Combo’ reminds me somewhat of Malcolm Arnold’s Three Sea Shanties, and this very enjoyable and perky music is written with just as much skill. This is some of the most engaging music I have heard in this genre, without trying to be contrived or clever. … If you don’t take yourself too seriously, you’ll really appreciate this disc. It’s a long time since I’ve come across a better disc for sheer enjoyment. All the players are very good, their blend and intonation is excellent, and they really toss off this music with aplomb.”

Geoff Pearce (Music & Vision)


“In questo CD licenziato dalla Ravello, lo spumeggiante quintetto di fiati Madera Wind Quintet (flauto, oboe, clarinetto, fagotto, corno) si dedica all’integrale del repertorio per tale organico scritto dal misconosciuto compositore americano Don Gillis (1912-1978). Si tratta di pagine briose, ben scritte, che a un solido ed equilibrato magistero compositivo uniscono una gran vitalità del materiale melodico e ritmico elaborato, intrecciato e finemente variato. Evidenti sono gli influssi popolari e jazzistici, come pure certa retorica rurale della musica americana di metà Novecento (talvolta sembra di assistere a un balletto del musical ‘Sette Spose per Sette Fratelli’, o di trovarsi nel bel mezzo di un Rodeo Coplandiano). Pur non brillando in originalità, queste suite offrono un ascolto gradevole e non banale, grazie anche alla sensibilità dei valenti musicisti che ne sono ottimi interpreti e avvocati.”

— Filippo Focosi (Kathodik)


“Thanks to Gillis’ fine sense of woodwind blending and the first-rate playing by the Madera Wind Quintet on a new Ravello CD, this first-ever recording of these three pieces is a delight from start to finish. … [T]he whole recording is so good-humored, the playing so well-balanced and so filled with verve, that the disc is simply a joy to hear.”


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Mission: Possible

At our retreat last summer in the mountains of New Mexico, we did a lot of hard work.


We talked about the direction of the group, our dreams for the future, and it all came down to first defining our mission. We are now in the planning stages of some exciting new projects, which will all be in support of our mission:

The Madera Wind Quintet shares the chamber music experience with diverse populations through performance, recording, and educational programs. We are passionate advocates for the wind quintet genre while also working to expand it through collaborative music projects, commissions and publications.

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FIVE PIECE COMBO Coming Nov. 13!


Order now on Amazon or iTunes!

Five Piece Combo: Overview

Although Don Gillis (1912 – 1978) is most known for his Symphony No. 5½, A Symphony for Fun (1945), premiered by Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra in 1947, the American composer, conductor, and educator wrote prolifically in nearly all contemporary styles and genres, with a catalog of more than 150 works including ten symphonies and six string quartets. Near the beginning of his career, between 1938 and 1939, he composed three suites for wind quintet, which have never been recorded – until now.

On their debut Ravello Records release, FIVE PIECE COMBO: THE COMPLETE SUITES FOR WIND QUINTET BY DON GILLIS, the Madera Wind Quintet presents the first recording of these delightful works. Dedicated to exploring the fringes of the quintet repertoire, the group – consisting of Amy Thiemann, flute; Jason Paschall, oboe; Rachel Yoder, clarinet; Jorge Cruz Jr., bassoon; and Angela Winter, horn – recorded six new works for wind quintet on their first album Five at Play before turning their focus to the music of Don Gillis.

As the Texas State Historical Association states, much of Gillis’ music:

…emphasizes the comical…. One of his artistic goals was to interpret his American background musically. His music therefore draws on popular material, particularly emphasizing jazz, which the composer viewed as a dynamic and revitalizing element in American music.

Revitalizing Gillis’ music, the Madera Wind Quintet bring out the composer’s clear, accessible, and melodic writing style as well as welcoming his lightheartedness, shown in many of his titles, such as Suite No. 1 for Woodwind Quintet, “The Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare” (1938), Suite No. 2 for Woodwind Quintet, “Three Sketches”(1939), and Suite No. 3 for Woodwind Quintet, “Gone with the Woodwinds” (1939). With this album, the ensemble delivers the composer’s playful and spirited music with enthusiasm and aplomb, each instrument treated as a unique and charming character in one of America’s forgotten musical narratives.
5PieceCombo-low res


Suite No. 1 for Woodwind Quintet,

     “The Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare”

1   I. They’re Off

2   II. Bre’er Rabbit Dreams

3   III. And Mr. Tortoise Wins the Race

Suite No. 2 for Woodwind Quintet,

     “Three Sketches”

4   I. Self Portrait

5   II. Sermonette (Southern Style)

6   III. Shadows

Suite No. 3 for Woodwind Quintet,

     “Gone with the Woodwinds”

7   I. Five Piece Combo

8   II. “Take Five” Blues

III. A Frolic in B-Bop Major

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MWQ Five Piece Combo Tour

We are gearing up for the release of Five Piece Combo: The Complete Suite for Wind Quintet by Don Gillis on Ravello Records, November 13, 2015! Kickstarter rewards are going out soon, and we’re on tour next week in Texas playing music from the album along with a few other selections.

Final Five piece Combo Poster

Here’s our tour program (to be selected from the following):

Suite No. 1 for Woodwind Quintet, “The Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare” – Don Gillis (1912-1978)

  1. They’re Off
  2. Bre’er Rabbit Dreams
  3. And Mr. Tortoise Wins the Race

Suite No. 2 for Woodwind Quintet, “Three Sketches” – Don Gillis

  1. Self Portrait
  2. Sermonette (Southern Style)
  3. Shadows

Suite No. 3 for Woodwind Quintet, “Gone with the Woodwinds” – Don Gillis

  1. Five Piece Combo
  2. “Take Five” Blues
  3. A Frolic in B-Bop Major

Allegro and Arioso – Ingolf Dahl (1912-1970)

Suite para quintetto de instrumentos de sopro – Oscar Lorenzo Fernández (1897-1948)

  1. Pastoral – Crepusculo no Sertão
  2.  Fuga – Sacy – Pererê
  3. Canção – Canção Da Madrugada
  4. Scherzo – Alegria da Manhã

Short Winds – Sean Friar (b. 1985)

  1. Wiggle Room
  2. Lick Machine



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MWQ at Basically Beethoven Festival

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Five Piece Combo coming Oct. 2015 on PARMA Recordings!

We’re excited to tell you that Five Piece Combo, our album of the music of Don Gillis which YOU helped to fund, has a release date: October 2015! The audio is edited and we are now working with the great team at PARMA Recordings on mastering, artwork and other steps to complete the project by this fall. Thanks to your support, we are going to be able to produce a fantastic recording!

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We Did It!

Thanks to the last batch of backers that helped put us over the edge: NBdoesIT, Cody Forrest, Susan Fair, Ray Yoder, Michael Dixon, Jacob Winter, Brittany Primavera, Carlos, Ellen Ryfle, Daniel Dominick, Ron Jacobson, Kelsey Pickford, Haley, Daniel Romberger, Janet Giovanniello, Greg & Virginia Haak, Aaron Beaver, Jorge A Cruz, Nataliya Sukhina, Lauren Liikala, Leon Munoz, Andrea Harrell, Michelle Hurt, Christine, Paul, Brian Madsen, Reiner Krämer, Geoffrey Winter, and Andrew DeBoer. We appreciate all your support more than you know, and we can’t wait for you to hear the album!

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