The Renaissance City Winds, named after Pittsburgh’s nickname, is the city’s oldest professional chamber music ensemble. Here are some highlights from its four decades of history:
- Eric Draper, the ensemble’s first oboist, starts a wind quintet. “Renaissance City Woodwind Quintet” is selected as name.
- Group presents their first school concert in December. Education activities have been an important part of the ensemble’s activities right up to the present.
- Winds are one of the winners in the Pittsburgh Concert Society Auditions, and perform in their 1976-77 series.
- Presenting concerts for the American Bicentennial Celebrations inspires the ensemble to make music of the United States part of its continuing mission.
- First tour concert, at Bethany College in West Virginia
- Starts annual concert series and begins residency at Carlow College, now Carlow University.
- New York City debut at Carnegie Recital Hall (now Weill Recital Hall).
- Richard Caliguiri, Mayor of Pittsburgh, promotes the second stage of Pittsburgh’s downtown redevelopment dubbed “Renaissance II” and writes the first of several endorsement letters on behalf of the Winds.
- Ensemble awarded its first NEA grant for innovative outreach residency in retail centers owned and operated by the Rouse Company.
- First concert of octets and nonets takes place on series at Carlow, with added players.
- Ensemble begins working with Janet Gillespie and Present Company, the first of many collaborations that will include two modern dance companies, a mime troupe, several choirs, and Pennsylvania’s State Poet.
- Kennedy Center debut in Washington D.C.
- The Renaissance City Wind Music Society is incorporated as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization. The community-based board of directors assumes administration of the Pittsburgh series beginning with the 1984-85 season.
- Winds perform in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Home at the invitation of Governor Dick Thornburgh.
- Name shortened and changed from Renaissance City Woodwind Quintet to Renaissance City Winds, to reflect the increasing variety of programming.
- Winds begin summer residency at the Morehead Chamber Music Celebration in Morehead, Kentucky.
- With the advent of the Heinz Endowments’ Pittsburgh Arts on Tour program, the Winds’ regional touring dramatically increases.
- Wind Music Society takes over production of Music for Neighborhoods concerts from another organization. First event is Bruckner’s Mass in e minor, a collaboration with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, conducted by Robert Page.
- Winds pioneer the “parlor concert” concept in the wake of the devastating newspaper strike that shrinks audiences and eventually costs the city the Pittsburgh Press.
- Winds’ first CD appearance is on a recording of chamber music by Pittsburgh composer Nancy Galbraith, a work for piano and wind quintet that was commissioned for the ensemble’s 20th anniversary.
- Chamber Music Magazine selects Rhythms and Rituals, the work recorded above, as “one of the 200 most representative chamber music compositions of the twentieth century!”
- First website created.
- In partnership with WQED-FM, Shaler Area School District, and Gateway to the Arts, the Winds win the Pittsburgh New Residency from Meet the Composer, one of only four residencies awarded nationwide in that grant cycle. The $140,000 grant supports four years of contemporary music creation, performance, and recording.
- Winds awarded their second major residency grant from Chamber Music America, the only one in the country funded in full.
- Centaur Recordings releases the Winds’ first complete CD, a disc of German Romantic Music
- First appearance at the Blossom Music Festival in Ohio.
- Created a three year strategic plan.
- First collaborative production with the International Poetry Forum.
- Initiated presence on FACEBOOK and Twitter.
- Celebrated 35th Anniversary.
- Winds begin recording their third CD project, a disc of American music over the turn of the twentieth century.
- Prepared a new three year Strategic Plan.
- Using Vertical Response, RCW begins sending email newsletters to patrons.
- Works with the consulting firm SHIFT COLLABORATIVE in marketing and fundraising.