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UMKC's Plaza Winds quintet thrives on musical and personal fellowship

Dennis Pearson, Isabella Currie, Stephen Borodkin
Sam Wisman
Dennis Pearson, Isabella Currie, Stephen Borodkin, Brianna Volkmann and Emily Boshin of the Plaza Winds

You may have heard of a "wind quintet," but what does that term really mean? Members of the UMKC Conservatory’s Plaza Winds quintet were recently in our studios to perform and shed some light for us on the art form.

The UMKC Conservatory's Plaza Winds quintet has been around for more than 20 years. But the arrangement of instruments that make up the ensemble have been around for much longer.

"This instrumentation came about from the wind sections that were in the orchestra," explains horn player Brianna Volkman. "I think a lot of the principal players of these wind sections wanted to play together and so that's how this group kind of formed originally."

The Plaza Winds are a performance group, but also an outreach opportunity for the UMKC Conservatory.

The Plaza Winds perform at the Classical KC studios
RJ Schultze
The Plaza Winds perform at the Classical KC studios

"We do recitals every semester, we pick fun, exciting, sometimes, standard music for the instrumentation and we perform at local high schools, middle schools, radio stations, colleges..." says clarinet player Stephen Borodkin.

"We try to perform and do a little bit of outreach and really advertise UMKC and the Conservatory and try to raise awareness for this really awesome chamber ensemble."

The ensemble's repertoire ranges from classical standards from Gustav Holst and Walter Piston to new music from emerging composers like Reena Esmail.

No matter what the group plays, however, what really matters is who they're playing beside.

"We get paid to play our instrument with all of our best friends," says oboe player Isabella Currie.

"We work really well together and it's really exciting to get to collaborate with my friends and colleagues every day."

The Plaza Winds:

Emily Boshin - flute
Isabella Currie - Oboe
Dennis Pearson - bassoon
Brianna Volkmann - horn
Stephen Borodkin - clarinet

Selections from the following works were performed live at Classical KC and used in this story:

Quintet for Wind Instruments
by Walter Piston

Wind Quintet in Ab Major
by Gustav Holst

The Light is the Same
by Reena Esmail

Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet
by György Ligeti

More information about the group and their upcoming performances at

Brooke Knoll is the digital audience specialist and afternoon host for Classical KC. You can reach her at
Sam Wisman is a Senior Producer for 91.9 Classical KC and a backup announcer for KCUR 89.3. Email him at