North Coast Winds performs live.

Our Story

Go to a top music school? Check.

Earn festival fellowships and competition prizes? Check, check.

Venture on the audition circuit and win that coveted spot in an orchestra? Check that too.

We had done everything a classical music career has traditionally demanded, but each of us knew there was still something missing…..

It wasn’t enough to stay behind a music stand in the middle of an orchestra or in a pit. We craved to connect meaningfully beyond the risers of the woodwind section - to the people in the audience AND those outside the hall. There were no prescribed instructions to achieve what we dreamed of, but we knew this in our bones: The five of us loved our musical chemistry. And we all shared a vision of taking arts accessibility and advocacy to another level in our community.

So the time came to start our own script...enter North Coast Winds.

What have we done since our inception in 2013? Travel! We’ve performed all over the country (even the non-contiguous parts!) in every conceivable setting, and we’re often the first woodwind ensemble featured at the venue. Locally, we’ve premiered works by emerging composers from the Cleveland Institute of Music and with established composers, like Margaret Brouwer and Dolores White, with a special commitment to representation of the diversity of voices, identities, and experiences in our world.

And, true to our mission, we’ve performed A LOT of concerts, offering specially curated programs through CityMusic Cleveland, Musicivic, the Firelands Symphony Orchestra, Holden Arboretum, and many more.

One of the things we’re most proud of is our chamber music camp, The North Coast Winds Summer Institute, we started from scratch -- from recruitment, through crowdsourcing over $4,000 for student scholarships, to implementing cutting-edge tech in 2020 to teach online despite the pandemic’s limitations. There’s nothing like seeing kids represented from all neighborhoods of our city light up with that special spark as they learn for the first time how to play without a conductor.

Who knows what we’ll be up to next, but it’ll continue to bring music, joy, and inclusion to more and more people from every walk of life.



Arleigh Savage


Ben Chen


Emily Shelley


Kimberly Zaleski