Photos copyright 2017 Diane Smithers, Mark Mushet, Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

There simply are no ugly pictures that can be painted, using the particular musical tone colours of the Cascadia Reed Quintet. You bring together bassoon, oboe, bass clarinet, clarinet, and alto saxophone, and it’s like having an insurance policy: by definition, nothing can possibly go wrong: you can forget playing defense, and all just concentrate on enhancing excellence.

Which the Cascadians clearly have all done. Their work this morning at Capilano University was extraordinary to me. They were not at all concerned over how their instruments would or could blend together: they all clearly understood that it is not possible to mix English horn, bassoon, clarinet, bass clarinet and sax, and not produce beautiful sounds; they were not even concerned about playing their best, because that was in the bag too; and I kept having the sense that I was watching five normal humans achieve telepathic communion before my very ears. As they played with unconscious impeccability, they kept making eye contact with each other in a way that would have seemed perfectly appropriate during a very interesting and life-affirming verbal conversation. At times I could almost follow it, or thought so.

The cliché is, “This is music to die for!” This was music to live for. I’m very glad I didn’t miss it.
— Spider Robinson