I wrote Summer Music for violin and piano in June of 2009. My friend Jennifer Paull asked me to make a transcription of it for oboe d'amore and piano, and yesterday I came across this recording of it on YouTube played on electronic instrument called the EW1.
This performance by Gorden Gunzelman is so expressive that it is hard to believe it is being played on an electronic instrument (or two electronic instruments, since there is also a piano part). Since the world of electronic wind controllers is new to me, I had to do a bit of investigation. I learned that these wind controllers have been around for almost 30 years. They make it possible for people to make the sounds of instruments that require specialized techniques and hard-won embouchures easily, and can be wonderful vehicles for expression. Expression is, along with imagination, syntax, timing, and contextual awareness, one of the human components in music making. I write music for people can be use as vehicles for expression, and I write music so that people can communicate musically with other people. I am pleased as punch that Gorden Gunzelman chose "Summer Music" as a piece to demonstrate how beautifully it is possible to play using an electronic wind controller.
These instruments could, if they can "run" string sounds, also make it possible for anyone who can read music and understands basic recorder fingerings to experience the great body of string chamber music from the 18th and 19th centuries. It certainly isn't a substitute for a string instrument (and probably should be considered an instrument in its own class), but using these instruments in unconventional (or perhaps conventional) ways could open up a vast repertoire to players of wind (and brass) instrument that they otherwise would not be able to experience personally and intimately.
The instrument Gunzelman is playing is an EW1 4000s, and it is made by Akai. The practitioners of the instrument call it an "ee-wee," but if you search for it online, make sure you use a numeral 1 for the "I."