Two-for-One Deal

Music is not for the elite, say members of the Delaware Valley Winds, who will perform at McCaffrey’s Supermarket in Yardley, Pa., Dec. 12.

By: Megan Sullivan
   Food shopping can be a drag. Amidst the sound of clanging carts and crashing condiments, a clean up on aisle seven may be the most exciting part of the trip. With a little live music, however, shoppers will be gliding down the aisles.
   The Delaware Valley Winds, a recently formed woodwind quartet, will present Sounds of the Season at McCaffrey’s Supermarket in Yardley, Pa., Dec. 12 to spice up that next grocery run. Andrea Maurer (flute), Jerry Nowak (clarinet), Ross Gombiner (oboe), Ben Hoyle (bassoon) and Steve Sweetsir (French horn) will play music by Jacques Ibert, Scott Joplin and Vincent Persichetti, as well as a handful of holiday favorites.
   The quintet members had played in various musical groups together and most recently with the orchestra Musica 2000, which disbanded not long ago due to lack of funding. About two months ago, the five woodwind players decided to keep playing together, but this time in their own group. The Dec. 12 performance sponsored by the Bucks County Performing Arts Center will be the Delaware Valley Winds’ first performance together.
   "It’s interesting to bring music to the people," says Ms. Maurer, a full-time musician who teaches flute at George School in Newtown, Pa., and privately. "That’s what it’s all about."
   Too many people think chamber music concerts are only for the elite, she says, which the Delaware Valley Winds doesn’t agree with. While a chamber music concert in a supermarket may seem odd, it provides the opportunity for people to hear music they might not usually be exposed to. "Food, music and shopping — what would be better besides shoes," Ms. Maurer says jokingly.
   The quintet will also be playing a piece arranged by Mr. Nowak, which has never been heard before. Mr. Nowak, a professor emeritus of music at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, has more than 800 published compositions and arrangements for instrumental and vocal ensembles. Ms. Maurer recalls playing Jerry Nowak pieces throughout junior high and high school and says she’s honored to be playing with him now. "I never thought in a million years that this composer would be a friend of mine," she says.
   During a recent rehearsal for the concert, the quintet practiced each piece meticulously, stopping frequently to pencil in notes on their sheet music or discuss elements like tempo, beat and volume. With a quintet, there’s no conductor and each member’s music differs from one another. "We rely so much on each others cues and nuances," says Mr. Sweetsir, who is principal associate conductor of the BCCC Symphonic Band and a conductor with the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County.
   The musicians play some lines over and over until they get the piece just right, but they also find room to throw in a short story or joke in between. "He’s the odd one," says Mr. Sweetsir pointing to Mr. Gombiner, who is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and an internist at the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Hospital. "(Oboists) turn a little neurotic," he continues, a reputation they’ve earned because of strenuous breathing that’s said to deprive the brain of oxygen.
   The group continues through their practice, proving that each instrument really is reliant on the others. As they add a twist to "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" with a swing section, it’s becomes evident that these musicians love what they do. "Chamber music is fun because it gives us a chance to use instruments in different ways," says Mr. Hoyle, a chief financial officer. As bassoonist, he stands out with his four-foot-tall woodwind. "Wherever there’s a bassoon, it always steals the show," Ms. Maurer says.
Delaware Valley Winds will perform Sounds of the Season on the Mezzanine level of McCaffrey’s Supermarket, 635 Heacock Road, Yardley, Pa., Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m. A reception will follow the free concert, which is sponsored by the Bucks County Performing Arts Center. For information, call (215) 493-3010. Bucks County Performing Arts Center on the Web: