August 2018 Convention
Orlando, FL

Musical Bucket List

This celebratory concert, coordinated by Sandra Saathoff, was dedicated to all who attend, serve, or are part of the National Flute Association and to Francesca Arnone, the 2018 convention’s program chair. Saathoff expressed her gratitude at being able to perform again after 10 years of being unable to do so. She also conveyed her appreciation for Katherine Borst Jones, Alexa Still, Jim Walker, and Dianne Frazer for collaborating with her on this program.

The concert opened with Walker’s flute quartet lively and familiar arrangement of The Marriage of Figaro. Next, Saathoff performed Tilmann Dehnard’s “Wake Up” for solo piccolo and alarm clock. This duet blended a perfect combination of humor, seriousness, and engaging music. The alarm clock—provided by the composer with the purchase of the score—essentially acted as a metronome and percussive accompaniment to the piccolo. This piece is now on my musical bucket list!

Jim Walker, Alexa Still, Sandra Saathoff, and Katherine Borst Jones

A flute quartet arrangement of Gary Schocker’s “Coffee Nerves” from Three Dances for Two Flutes and Piano was next. Upon entering the stage, Walker announced that “I need a cup of coffee!” The speedy tune included a pause in the middle during which the performers pretended to drink coffee.

Jones and Still slowed things down a bit with their performance of Charles Koechlin’s Sonata, Op. 75. Jones dedicated the performance to her teacher, Robert Willoughby, who passed away this summer. The duo performed with beautiful tone and balanced, in-tune harmonies that were simply lovely.

Still and Frazer followed with Armando Ghidoni’s “Jazzy Flute Challenge.” I am still baffled by the incredible finger technique demonstrated by Still in this toe-tapping work in ABA form. The word “challenge” in the title is certainly apt, especially in the A sections! The B section of this piece featured lyrical, sensitive, and beautiful interplay between the flute and piano.

Roman Ryterband’s “Dialogue (Pièce sans Titre),” performed by Jones and Saathoff, truly sounded like a dialogue, with the flutists performing with impeccable intonation and balance. The person sitting next to me at the performance described this piece as “mesmerizing.”

Gershwin Medley, arranged by Walker, offered a crowd-pleasing journey that featured more Gershwin hits than I could count. Walker introduced the work by noting that while we are celebrating the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein this year, it is important to also remember Gershwin and his contributions. Walker and Frazer performed this collection of tunes in diverse styles with stunning musicianship that captivated and entertained the audience.

The concert concluded with a quartet of flutists performing Walker’s “Badinerie Variations” from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2, BWV 1067. As the concert was approaching the time limit, the quartet performed the variations on this well-known tune at a lightning-fast tempo that accelerated to an extremely lively close to the concert.

I really enjoyed the variety in the repertoire performed on this concert and the high level of musicianship demonstrated by the performers. From the calm and slow works by Ryterband and Koechlin to the humorous, yet still serious, duet for piccolo and alarm clock to the familiar works by Gershwin and the speedy tempo of the closing number, this Musical Bucket List featured something for everyone.

—Kathy Melago