Music For Five Winds: An Interview With The Atéa Quintet

by Karine Hetherington

Karine went down to the South Bank to meet the internationally acclaimed Atéa Quintet. Three of the members were able to make it: horn player Chris Beagles; clarinettist Anna Hashimoto; and oboe player Phillip Haworth.

Three out of five of you are here. Who’s missing?

Chris: Alena, our flute player, is unfortunately sick, and our bassoonist Ashley is working in New York.

Which begs the question: How easy is it to play as a quintet? How do you fit it into all your other musical commitments?

Anna: It is a challenge but we have played together for nearly nine years now. That means every time we come together, we blend instantly. We know how each one of us plays. Everything is really natural.

Phillip: Finding a rehearsal space for all five of us is difficult. We are lucky enough now to be able to use a church in Pimlico. But for many young musicians fresh out of music school, being able to rehearse as an ensemble is a problem!

The Atéa Wind Quintet

You seem to like a mixture of old and contemporary music in your programme.

Phillip: Yes. We like to test various contemporary works out on the audience as well as playing well-known works by Mozart and Debussy, for example.

Anna: We’ve been together for so long, it’s important to keep challenging ourselves with finding and learning new repertoire.

You have a CD as well – tell us about that. 

Chris: Yes. Our debut CD came out two years ago on Coviello Classics. It is entitled Music for Five Winds.

Was it recorded in a studio?

Chris: No, we thought that would sound too dry. It was recorded in a church. We also have a second CD coming out early next year. We will probably call it Music for Nine Winds and will have William Alwyn’s Flute Concerto featuring our flautist, Alena, and a Mozart two-piano sonata arranged for wind nonet by Quentin Poole.  

Do you ever get nervous about performing?

Anna: Not really. It’s really fun playing together.

Phillip: If one of us is nervous, the others back him or her up. We are all there to help each other. Especially if one of us is not very well.

That must be tough, playing wind instruments when you are under the weather…

Anna: Yes it is! And sometimes on tour, especially at the end of a tour, we may be lacking in energy. There may be times when you’ll find us backstage, on the floor sleeping with some nice, calm music!

Atéa will be performing at St Luke’s Church on Sunday 30th September at 5pm. Book your tickets here.

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