Video Premiere: Toyin Spellman-Diaz performs Jeff Scott’s “Of Good and Evil”

The opulent Upper East Side townhouse of the Frederick R. Koch Foundation acts as the backdrop for today’s video premiere: an excerpt from a series of filmed concerts curated by pianist Daniel Schlosberg and produced by ffflypaper. In this snippet from The Townhouse Series, Scholsberg accompanies oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz on “Waltz with a Devil” from Of Good and Evil by her Imani Winds bandmate Jeff Scott.

The Townhouse Series ran December 13-19, 2021 and streamed intimate recitals by Spellman-Diaz, Angel Blue, Anthony Roth Constanzo, Clare Monfredo, Merz Trio, David Shifrin, and Cantata Profana. The full-length performances are still available to view on the Foundation’s website.

“When you as a musician get to work with a composer who knows you through and through, secrets are going to come out,” says Spellman-Diaz about her relationship with Scott. This intimacy and familiarity is clear in Scott’s writing, which leans into Spellman-Diaz’s trademark combination of sensitive lyricism and fluid technique.

Toyin Spellman-Diaz (Photo by Shervin Lainez) and Jeff Scott (Photo by Tanya Rosen-Jones)

Toyin Spellman-Diaz (Photo by Shervin Lainez) and Jeff Scott (Photo by Tanya Rosen-Jones)

Here’s what Scott had to say about Of Good and Evil:

I’m drawn to the subject of good versus evil. Goddesses and demons, angels, and devils – I find it all fascinating and great source material for composing. In Of Good and Evil, the piano introduces the Devil’s motif in the opening bars of the first movement. Sweetly determined, the oboe dances with the darker angels, fighting to stay in the light, but temptation is always present – menacing, taunting, seducing, raging….Of Good and Evil was commissioned by Spellman-Diaz, and it affords me the opportunity to showcase an artist’s unique gifts.

About Toyin Spellman-Diaz

Oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz earned her Bachelors of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and her Master’s and Professional Studies degrees at the Manhattan School of Music. Her orchestral career includes performances with the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Civic Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. An original member of Imani Winds, Ms. Spellman-Diaz has built her career as a champion of contemporary chamber music. Along with her Imani Winds colleagues, she is devoted to discovering new and diverse musical voices and cultures to increase and enhance the woodwind quintet repertoire. She has also collaborated with some of today’s most influential chamber music ensembles, including Alarm Will Sound, the Antara Ensemble, and Camerata Pacifica.

Currently Ms. Spellman-Diaz teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music, Brooklyn College, and New York University, and is on the Board of the American Composer’s Orchestra

About Jeff Scott

Jeff Scott, a native of Queens, NY, started the French horn at age 14, receiving an anonymous gift scholarship to go to the Brooklyn College Preparatory Division. An even greater gift came from his first teacher, Carolyn Clark, who taught the young Mr. Scott for free during his high school years, giving him the opportunity to study music when resources were not available. Mr. Scott continued his studies at Manhattan School of Music and SUNY Stony Brook, studying horn performance with David Jolley and William Purvis as well as Scott Brubaker and Jerome Ashby.

Mr. Scott’s performance credits are many and varied. They include The Lion King orchestra (on Broadway, New York) 1997-2005, and the 1994 revival of Showboat 1994-1997. He has performed numerous times under the direction of Wynton Marsalis with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Mr. Scott was a founding member and French hornist of the internationally acclaimed wind quintet Imani Winds from 1997-2020 and is a prolific composer/arranger. Jeff Scott served as an adjunct professor of Horn at Montclair State University for 18 years and was appointed as Associate Professor of Horn at Oberlin College in 2020​.


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