August 2011 Convention
Charlotte, NC

Jazz and World Music Offerings at the 2011 Convention

Through the efforts of recent jazz committee chairperson Ali Ryerson and new chair Kris Keith, jazz is gaining recognition at the NFA. The Jazz Flute Big Band, very much Ryerson’s baby, gave its third performance at the convention, with Yours Truly propping up the alto section. The ensemble also took part in the performance of a new piece by pianist/composer Mike Wofford for orchestra, flute choir, and the Jazz Flute Big Band, specially commissioned for the convention. In addition, there were jazz performances—by Ryerson, Jamie Baum, Nelson Rangell, and Jane Lenoir—and a jazz masterclass given by New York flutist/composer Baum. The jazz flute big band reading session, now an annual event, continues to be well attended, even though it took place at 9 am on Saturday. Jazz continues to expand its role in these conventions. The Jazz Flute Big Band will appear every other year; more jazz artists will be invited to perform; and a jazz soloist competition has been added to the NFA competitions roster. Reflecting this level of activity, a jazz rhythm section will now be a permanent fixture in the budget for every convention.

Meanwhile, the broadening of horizons at the NFA continues with the formation of a new World Music committee, with myself as chair and members with expertise in the flute traditions of (so far) India, Southeast Asia, Turkey, Cuba, and Brazil. This year’s convention was graced by Turkish artist Omar Faruk Tekbilek at a gala World Music performance and world fusion artist Rhonda Larson. There were also performances from Celtic and Klezma traditions and a workshop on the north Indian bamboo flute, or bansuri, by John Wubbenhorst. I gave a presentation entitled “Apollo and Dionysius: The Lyre and the Flute in World Traditions, Past, Present, and Future.”

All of this reflected the theme of this year’s convention: Unity Through Diversity: Many Flutists, One World. The role of the World Music committee, working in conjunction with the Jazz committee, will be to present flute music from every part of Planet Earth. All suggestions are welcome and should be directed to myself.

—Peter Westbrook, ganved@gmail.com