As morning commuters blew down Lexington's Main Street on Wednesday morning, the quintet WindSync brought chamber music to the corner of Thoroughbred Park at Main and Eastern Avenue.
The Houston-based wind ensemble is in Lexington for the first week of the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington. This is the event's second year of presenting pop-up concerts around town as a prelude to the seventh annual festival's main events next week, primarily at the Fasig-Tipton Pavilion.
The idea, organizer Richard Young said, is to bring classical chamber music to places where it isn't normally heard, such as one of the city's busiest streets during morning rush hour.
"We are five people, 13 instruments, and lots of cars and car horns," bassoonist Tracy Jacobson joked about 8:30 a.m. to several dozen people in Thoroughbred Park, many of whom had grabbed coffee at nearby A Cup of Common Wealth before settling in for the music.
After the performance, horn player Anni Hochhalter said the group enjoyed the environment, a far cry from the quiet concert halls where classical music is usually presented.
"We like spontaneous elements, so if it wasn't a car horn going off, it would be one of us trying to do something on stage to try to rattle the other ones," Hochhalter said. "We love the spontaneous elements that come with pop-up concerts."
Wednesday was just the group's second day in Lexington, and performances are scheduled to go through Sunday. Venues include The Morris Book Shop and West Sixth Brewing.
The second year of the pop-up concerts preceding the Chamber Music Festival, which again will feature the core quintet that has played the event since 2007, comes with some changes. Instead of pulling together a pickup ensemble of freelance musicians, the festival chose an established group to eliminate the need for rehearsal days, Young said. Also, the pop-ups are being presented the week before the traditional festival, instead of in July, so they are now billed as the first week of a two-week festival.
Young said that the later date allows the ensemble to visit schools, which it plans to do Thursday instead of presenting public performances.
WindSync, Young said, is an ideal ensemble for pop-up shows because the musicians play standing and have their music memorized, eliminating the need for music stands and chairs that many classical ensembles require.
After the concert, Jacobson said the group had plenty of experience with the format, from its home base in Texas to Los Angeles to New Jersey. But on the first day of the group's Lexington visit, she already gave the Bluegrass high marks.
"Richard has taken it upon himself to show us the most fantastic places," Jacobson said, sporting a T-shirt from the state-pride group Kentucky for Kentucky, the people of the "Kentucky Kicks Ass" campaign. "And fortunately, we're getting to play at most of them, too."
Chamber Music Festival of Lexington
What: Seventh annual festival of chamber music concerts. The first week focuses on concerts by an ensemble-in-residence, WindSync, at various places in Lexington. The second week focuses on concerts by returning and guest artists mostly at the Fasig-Tipton Pavilion. Returning and guest artists are artistic director Nathan Cole and Akiko Tarumoto, violins; Burchard Tang, viola; Priscilla Lee, cello; Alessio Bax, piano; Nicholas Phan, tenor; and Raymond Lustig, composer-in-residence.
When: Through Aug. 25
Learn more: Chambermusiclex.com.
Aug. 16: WindSync at NoLi Night Market, Bryan Ave. between N. Limestone and Loudon Ave. (9-9:30 p.m.) Free.
Aug. 17: WindSync at The Morris Book Shop, 882 E. High St. (11 a.m.); Woodland Art Fair, Woodland Park (1 p.m.); and West Sixth Brewing, 501 W. Sixth St. (8:30-10 p.m.). All free.
Aug. 18: WindSync at Greentree Tea Room, 521 W. Short St. (10:30 a.m.) $75. Benefits festival and Charles H. Stone Foundation.
Aug. 22: Preview performance and open rehearsal with returning and guest artists. 7:30 p.m. Natasha's Bistro, 112 Esplanade. Free.
Aug. 23: Music by Vaughan Williams and Beethoven. 7:30 p.m. Fasig-Tipton Pavilion, 2400 Newtown Pike. $15, $35.
Aug. 24: Music by Schubert, Ravel and world premiere by Lustig. 7:30 p.m. Fasig-Tipton Pavilion. $15, $35.
Aug. 25: Music by Mozart, Schumann, Prokofiev, Schubert and Shostakovich. 2 p.m. Fasig-Tipton Pavilion. $15.