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Trade Winds Ensemble

~The mission of Trade Winds is to Encourage individuals to express themselves by providing excellent and accessible workshops, performances, and collaborations that explore music as a tool for social change and the arts as a way of life~

Founded in 2012, Trade Winds is a woodwind quintet and composer collective made up of musicians who are equally committed to both performance and teaching. The musicians of Trade Winds are flutist Suzanne Gillen, clarinetist Brian Gnojek, oboist Ellen Hindson, composer Brandon Scott Rumsey, bassoonist Midori Samson, and French hornist Jamie Sanborn. They are inspired by the power music has to build self-confidence and communication skills in young people. 

During their pilot volunteer residency in Kenya, they offered three weeks of free classes and concerts for students across Nairobi. They hosted beginning arts classes at primary schools, instrumental coachings with youth ensembles, interactive public performances, and collaborations with local musicians. In total they worked with 6 institutions and made music with over 600 children. 

In 2016, the ensemble returned to Kenya, where they worked again with their partners, and made new partnerships with other institutions. They continued their mission to make music with children across Nairobi, and focused more on the sustainability of their partnerships. They also expanded their work to Tanzania where they offered free music workshops based on a similar curriculum across Arusha at 7 partner institutions, and worked with over 1,300 children total. 

Locally, Trade Winds is always seeking opportunities to welcome college students and other professionals into their family and mission. In 2015, they were the guest ensemble of the Wright State University Reed Festival where they gave masterclasses, lectures, and a recital to inform the community of the project. Trade Winds is happy to schedule more college performances and visits for the future. 

Most recently in June 2017, Trade Winds hosted another residency in Chicago, Illinois, in partnership with RefugeeOne and The People' Music School. The project curriculum mirrored the work they did in East Africa and they offered free music education with these partners during a two-week music camp. 



In 2013, Trade Winds travelled to Kenya to volunteer and offer three weeks of free music classes and concerts across Nairobi. During this pilot residency we partnered with 6 institutions: the Art of Music Foundation, Barbara Jasinska Rise and Shine Academy, International School of Kenya, Kenya National Youth Orchestra, Nairobi School, and Rift Valley Academy. We performed at each of these institutions, and collaborated in concert with the Nairobi Orchestra, giving 10 performances. In total, we made music with over 600 children. We also learned far more than we taught, making these experiences invaluable to our growth as musicians and humans. 

Built out of concepts like individuality, community, and expression, our workshops aimed to show students how art relates to these terms and how they can use music in their lives. All of us deeply believe in the power music education has to strengthen necessary qualities in children like curiosity, self-confidence, and communication skills. So our classes were highly experiential and every day students were challenged to think like artists and create and perform their own original works through mediums like instrumental playing, improvisation, composition, movement, visual art, and creative writing. All of our workshops concluded with a sharing in which the students performed their music for each other and their communities. 

We returned to Kenya in June 2016 to continue to create sustainable music programs by partnering with these institutions for another round of workshops (as well as El Sistema Kenya and Johannes Enterprise), and by connecting local musicians to outreach opportunities. 




In 2016, we travelled to Arusha, Tanzania, where we hosted a two-week arts camp in partnership with the Umoja Centre, and held workshops at the International School of Moshi, Kiboroloni Secondary School, Lohada and Samaritan Village orphanages, Tumaini University Makumira, Ujamaa Children's Home, and Uraki Secondary School. Our lessons were built from the same curriculum as our 2013 project, with a deeper focus on sustainability and cross-cultural connection through skill-building arts empowerment classes. 


In June 2017, Trade Winds partnered with Chicago-based organizations RefugeeOne and The People's Music School to offer two weeks of free music and arts workshops. Our classes mirrored the curriculum we used in East Africa, focusing on our students' growth in confidence, self-expression, and composition. We continue to give weekly performances at RefugeeOne during the school year, featuring guest musicians from around Chicago. 


In November 2015, Trade Winds was the guest ensemble at the Wright State University Reed Festival in Dayton, Ohio. We gave lectures, instrumental masterclasses, and a recital to inform the community of our work in East Africa. We were honored to invite other young musicians into our mission and family! In the future, we hope to do much more work like this, as well as concerts and workshops in schools with younger children. If you would like to invite Trade Winds to perform and speak at your institution, please contact us! 


Our work in Kenya and Tanzania is entirely funded by private donations and small grants. So, donors are a big part part of the Trade Winds family, and it means everything to us that we can represent your generosity through teaching music around the world. If you would like to join our cause by making a tax deductible donation, please visit our profile on TheField.orgAll donors who contribute at least $40 will gain access to view our upcoming documentary coming in Winter 2016.

Asante sana!

Trade Winds is a sponsored artist with The Performance Zone Inc (dba The Field), a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization serving the performing arts community. Contributions to The Field earmarked for Trade Winds are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. For more information about The Field contact: The Field, 75 Maiden Lane, Suite 906 New York, NY 10038, phone: 212-691-6969 or for our national charities registration, see details. A copy of our latest financial report may be obtained from The Field or from the Office of Attorney General, Charities Bureau, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271.


Richard Bayles and Gretchen Pusch

William Hughes, Sr.

Susan C. Miller

The Pauls Foundation

The Peter M. Gross Fund

The Juilliard School Summer Grants Program 


Jeannine Alexandro

Ashley Allison

Joshua Anderson

Hannah B

Ellen Barker

Nanci Belmont

William Boswell

Andrea Boushey

Tony Brackett

Scott and Jennifer Brunk

Sara Burley

Mary Carney

Charleen Caulk

JooAe and John Choi

David and Klari Crabtree

Shelley and James Curtis

Jack “Danger” Davison

John Devitt

Nancy Dietze

Julie DiRocco

Caryl Doberstein

Karen Douek

Deborah Dougherty

Clifford and Betty Echols

Emily Ehrstein

Rohana Elias-Reyes

Abigail Elizur

Marie Fehlig

Donald Fox

Betty Fujishin

Charlotte Grant

Courtney Gratton

Dr. Sigurd Gundersen Jr.

Janie Hanson

Brittany Harrington

Carolyn Harris

Mary Haupert

Dr. John Hayden

Guy Herling

Brian Huffman

William Hughes

Hiroshi Ikeda

William and Joyce Iliff

Schuyler J

Frances Jackson

Edward and Judith Joyce

Molly Joyce

Diana Katavolos

Yuki Katayama

Robin Keyser and Kirk Lesher

FMV Klein

Michele Klug

Julie Knutson

Evan Kuhlmann

Mitchell Lyon

Joseph Martin

Nancy Matchett

Wendy Mattison

Betty and George McDonald

Susan and Joseph McGee

Gregory and Dorothy Meyer

Donald and Carolyn Moore

The Morelli Family

Seth Morris

Milinda N

Andrew Olsen

Lara Olson

Alexander Onieal

Fred Ormand

Lisa Paine

Edward Papier

Sarah Papier

Sandra Pederson

Sarah Peters

Winsome Rainford

Eric Reed

Carina Reynes

Karen Roesler

Jean Rohrs

Jonathan Rossi

Elizabeth and Jerome Russell

Laura Sakaguchi

Karen and Gregory Samson

Kendra Samson

Christina Self

Olivia Seltzer

Joyce Shanks

Elizabeth Sheagren

Rebecca Simmons

K Sims

Staci Spring

Eric Stomberg

Shannon Trinh

Rachel Van Amburgh

Mary Veldey

Donna Waller

Richard Wittig

Michael Wol


We love to talk! Please get in touch, or find us on social media. You can reach us by email, or on Facebook and Instagram!



Instagram: @TradeWindsEnsemble