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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Five Piece Combo Campaign Ends Soon!

THANK YOU to everyone who’s shown their support for our next recording project by backing our Five Piece Combo campaign to release a recording of the suites for wind quintet by Don Gillis! If you’ve been waiting to contribute, now’s the time! We are making great progress, but we are still about $1000 away from reaching our goal, with only 44 hours to go.

In case you’re new to Kickstarter, the way it works is that if we don’t reach our goal, we don’t get any of the money, and you won’t be charged. This ensures that when the campaign is over, we have enough funding to complete the project to the standards we’ve set forth, and you’ll receive your CD or other reward. Click here to become a backer and help us reach our goal!

We’d like to thank the latest round of backers who’ve helped us get this far: Rick Hardy, Ryan & Heather Hyde Wargo, Glenn Coates, Rachel Woolf, Peter Magganas, one of our favorite composers Sean Friar, K Sheeran, Sharon Thompson, Becky Emory, Aleks Karjaka, Linda Kurita, Debbie Brooks, Heather Schimp-Test, Rodolfo Martinez, Brian H, Chapman Welch, Manzar Elahi, Philip, Thomas & Lisa Leise, Mark P, the RAINZ Wind Quintet, Kate Pritchett, Chris Dickhaus, Alyssa Hedenstrom, Linda Lancaster, Christian Ortiz, Claire Choquette, Liz, David MacDonald, Ann Thiemann, Melanie Pozdol, and Helen Schenk.

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2015 Texas Tour a Success!

Our Kickstarter campaign to release our next album Five Piece Combo is gathering momentum. Before sharing some tour pics with you, we need to thank a big round of recent backers. Our deepest appreciation goes to: Miguel Cantu, Justin Allen, George B. Kopf, Phil Schenk, Andrew Balettie, Patricia Surman (a founding member of Madera from back in the day!), Sidney Steward, Stephen Lucas, Raymond Rowell, Kellie Lignitz, Kevin Winter, Matthew Hiller, Leah Greenfield, Arne Running (whose awesome piece Aria and Quodlibet we performed on our recent tour), Scott Henkel, Rachel Sorgi, Peggy Moran, Matt Starling (who released our first album Five at Play!), Bradley Hardin, John Platt, David Summar, Randall Ray, Cheryl Glitz, Will Clifton, Barbara Dixon, Erin Lensing, Lynette Westendorf, Brandon Kelly, Tyler Mire, John Hackathorn, Drew Zaremba, Steve, Betty Winter, Alison McQueen, Richard Hart, and the one and only founding oboist of Madera, Keith Bjorklund!

With only one week left in the campaign, we appreciate your continued support in backing our project and helping to spread the word!

In the meantime, we wanted to let you know that our 2015 Texas Tour was a success! Despite challenges including muscle spasms, sick babies, and hotel coffee, we played seven great concerts and got to share our love and knowledge of chamber music with amazing students throughout the state of Texas. Oh, and audiences LOVED the Don Gillis pieces we played on tour! Here are some photos from our trek to Tyler, Denton, Nacogdoches, Corpus Christi, Kingsville and San Antonio:

Performing at Banter Bistro in Denton

Master classes at Stephen F. Austin State University

Q&A session with students at Texas A&M – Kingsville

Coaching the Pentasonic Winds student quintet at Texas A&M – Kingsville

Rehearsing in the beautiful Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Performing Arts Center

Performing to a great crowd at the Texas Music Educators Association Convention

MW on the road!

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Texas Tour in Progress!

We’ve had a great pair of concerts at UT-Tyler and at Banter Bistro in Denton, and now we’re off to Stephen F. Austin State in Nacogdoches! And, we have some more people to thank, because the Kickstarter campaign for our next recording Five Piece Combo is right on track at 20% of our goal. A very big thank-you to our newest backers: Dan Phillips, Jim Elicker, Cindi Allington, Joanna Castillo, Natalie Lorch, Sean Murphy, Tammy Lim, Jenna Yoder, Beth Yoder, Brad Haefner, Alejandro Moreno, Heather Suchodolski, Rodney Thiemann, and Joel Auringer / Daniel Rareguin.

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