August 2011 Convention
Charlotte, NC

Jennings and Wincenc in Concert

Program Chair Lisa Garner Santa planned much of this convention by pairing flutists on various programs, and this was one of her most fortunate duos. The program began with Christina Jennings performing the Fantasy on Françoise di Rimini by Paul Taffanel. This is lesser known than his fantasies on Der Freischütz and Mignon. The opera is Ambroise Thomas’ last, and its story is taken from Dante’s Divine Comedy. Jennings has the singing tone and virtuostic technique necessary for a successful performance.

For Carol Wincenc, this early morning concert started a heroic day, as she later attended a concert featuring her many students, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the evening Fundraising Dinner, and finally, 12 hours after her first performance, was soloist in Lukas Foss’ Renaissance Concerto. Wincencbrought composer Joan Tower to the stage to introduce her recent solo flute piece, For Marianne. Tower, who wrote the work to honor Marianne Lockwood, co-founder and president of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, is disarmingly affable. She said, “flutists are the best; you have created more music than anyone else in this century.” She related that Wincenc first asked her to write a piece for flute and guitar, and she initially declined, saying the flute would bury the guitar, “and anyway, flutists count better.” Her new flute piece sounds like a lyric improvisation on a simple idea, the minor third, and contains many tremolos and trills, and Wincenc was a spellbinding soloist.

Jennings followed with a different manner of flute music, Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Flautina (1989) for solo flute, piccolo, and alto flute. Jennings introduced the piece as being the “most approachable” among the many flute works Stockhausen wrote for Kathinka Pasveer. The performer wears a quiver of sorts to store the three flutes, as changes between them are frequent and often quick. The score calls for the flutist to sing during instrument changes and features a whole gamut of extended techniques from air sounds and timbral trills to flutter tonguing. Jennings met the challenge with aplomb.

Members of the Green Mountain Chamber Players, composer Joan Tower (center), and flutist Carol Wincenc (far right)

photo by Leonard Garrison

Joan Tower introduced her substantial and difficult work, Rising for flute and string quartet, saying the piece was “about how music goes up,” getting louder and higher. The piece was written for Wincenc, who called a passage midway through “a choir of angels… ethereal.” This performance also featured the Green Mountain Chamber Players, in residence at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. The texture is similar to a flute concerto, as the flute takes a solo role, including a cadenza, in contrast to the strings, who collaborate more closely. It was a thrill to hear such serious music making.

The concert ended on a lighter note, Christopher Caliendo’s flute duet, Hoedown, which the performers introduced as “a rough bucking bronco ride.”

—Leonard Garrison