August 2011 Convention
Charlotte, NC

Flutists Reaching Out

Two NFA members gave a wonderful presentation on their international music projects. Mary Procopio spoke about the music, culture, and challenges faced by musicians in Haiti. She began her research on Haiti in 2002 when she had the opportunity to study traditional Haitian drumming. In January 2003 she made her first trip to Haiti to participate in a three-week course on the country’s music, dance, and culture held at the Leocardie and Alexandre Kenscoff Cultural Center in central Haiti. Since that time, Procopio has returned to Haiti annually  to teach, perform, and conduct research on Haitian music and culture. Her doctoral dissertation was on Haitian classical music for flute, much of which incorporates traditional rhythms and melodies; her article, “Crossing Borders: Solo and Chamber Music for Flute by Haitian Composers,” appeared in the fall 2006 issue of The Flutist Quarterly. In January 2010, she sponsored a cultural exchange program bringing five Haitian music teachers to her college for the semester. She founded Z.A.M.A. (Zanmi Ansanm Misik Ayisyen, which translates into “Friends Together for Haitian Music”), and the group’s first CD, Belle Ayiti, came out in 2008. Procopio spoke most eloquently about the needs of the musicians in Haiti, as well as the great passion of the Haitian people towards music.

The second presentation demonstrated the power of musicians to make positive change in the world. In the 1990s, illegal blood collectors came into the rural farming areas in China’s Henan Province and recruited poor subsistence farmers to give blood in return for small amounts of money to augment their meager incomes. Unsterile procedures spread the HIV virus to those who participated, resulting in the deaths of more than 10,000 adults from HIV/AIDS and leaving behind more than 2,000 orphaned children. Elderly grandparents struggle to feed and cloth themselves as well as these children—an impossible task. There are few other options, as there are no orphanages or others to care for the orphans.

Flutist Linda Mintener organized a flute concert at her church to provide funds to sponsor a few of the orphans so that they could stay in homes with their grandparents and buy school books and supplies, school and dorm fees, adequate clothing for the cold winters, and adequate food. The concerts continued annually with performances by Mintener, the Madison Flute Choir, Alexa Still, Roberta Brokaw, and many professional flutists and musicians from the Madison area. Funds are raised from concert free-will offerings and sales of concert CDs. In addition, for three years the Wm. S. Haynes Co. has donated a flute to be sold for the Orphan Project’s benefit. The result is that for the 2011–12 school year, 75 children will receive funds that have allowed them remain with their grandparents, attend school on an equal footing with others, and look forward to a brighter future.

—Terri Sundberg