August 2006 Convention
Pittsburgh, PA

Flute Choir Performances

August 10, 12, 13, 2006

Flute choirs seem to have come into their own at this 34th annual National Flute Association convention, gaining a new prominence by being invited to perform on each of the evening’s Gala Concerts. Program Chair Thomas Robertello should be applauded for increasing the visibility and prestige of flute choirs by including them in the evening programming. The daytime flute choir venues were outstanding this year. Flute Choir Showcases were held in a large room that accommodated audiences of at least 300 people. In addition, noon and 7 p.m. atrium concerts were held in the lovely atrium area—a comfortable and more casual setting where convention attendees could listen to music while enjoying a meal at the many tables provided in the area. This venue also allowed passers-by the opportunity to stop and listen while enroute to other events. The acoustics in the atrium were wonderful, with the high ceiling flanking performing groups and floor-to-ceiling windows providing the backdrop.

Following the convention’s opening ceremonies, the ICONS Flute Orchestra, conducted by Shaul Ben-Meir, performed the first concert of the convention in a program of transcriptions that included Nancy Nourse’s arrangement of Frederick Deluis’ “Sleigh Ride,” Martin Melicharek’s arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Little Fugue, and Shaul Ben-Meir’s arrangements of Gliere’s Russian Sailors Dance, Mozart’s Allegro con sprito K. 385, de Falla’s Spanish Dance, “Prince and Princess” from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, and the fourth movement (“Saltarello”) from Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4, “Italian.” This flute orchestra, comprised of more than 100 NFA convention attendees, included many bass and alto flutes, several contrabass flutes, and a new subcontra-alto flute in G.

Steven Byess conducting the Professional Flute Choir

Steven Byess conducting the Professional Flute Choir

I attended at least portions of several showcases and atrium concerts. On Thursday afternoon, the Fairbanks Flutists from Fairbanks, Alaska, directed by Dorli McWayne, presented a program called “Flutescapes,” which included the timeless piece, Memories of East Tennessee, by Austin Scott, and several newer pieces including Cripple Creek Counterpoint by John Jeffrey Greer, the haunting The Moon the Floating World by Charles B. Griffin, and Sandra Howard’s trio arrangement of Miyagi’s Haro No Umi (The Sea in Spring), adapted by Dorli McWayne for full flute choir.

Saturday’s noon atrium concert featured the Florida Flute Teacher’s Orchestra, conducted by Shaul Ben-Meir. The group performed orchestral transcriptions by Ben-Meir, including Allegro Moderato (Arpeggione) by Schubert, Dance of the Hours by Ponchielli, Leyenda by Albeniz, and La Forza del Destino by Verdi, and concluded with the exciting Furiant by Dvorak. Their performance included two contrabass flutes and Paige Long playing her double contrabass flute.

The Flute Choir of Atlanta, directed by Kathy Farmer, performed in the atrium on Saturday evening. The group performed Farmer’s exiting new Fanfare for Flutists, Flutes en Vacances by Jacques Casterede, Katherine Hoover’s Three for Eight, Catherine McMichael’s Beach Music, and Bill Holcombe’s arrangement of That’s A’Plenty.

Sunday’s noon atrium concert was performed by Maryland group Flutes on the Brink, directed by Laura Benning, and the University of Central Florida’s Flute Choir, directed by Nora Lee Garcia. Flutes on the Brink performed two pieces by one of their members, composer Jonathan Cohen: Wooden Bridge (written for Woodbridge Flute Choir) and the clever Flutes and Vegetables. In addition, two harpists were featured on Mel Lauf’s fine arrangement of Bach-Gounod’s Ave Maria. Also performed were Bill Holcombe’s arrangement of Monaco’s standard “You Made Me Love You” and Ervin Monroe’s arrangement of Norwegian Dance No. 2 by Grieg.

The University of Central Florida Flute Choir program included Ravel’s Habanera arranged by Richard Miller-Dombois, and Stella Sung’s The Crane Dance of Setting Sun, which featured an effective use of extended techniques. Also performed were the charming La Danza de Los Cocone (Children’s Dance) by Jorge Calleja and the upbeat The Home of Happy Feet by UCF composition professor Jeff Rupert.

The National High School Flute Choir conducted by Stacey Steele performed Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade), Ralph Manuel’s Alleluia, Hirose’s Blue Train, Catherine McMichael’s Salt of the Earth, Delibe’s Flower Duet from Lakme, Holland’s Global Village Samba, McDowell’s Shuffle by the Seaside and two movements from Sonny Burnette’s Jazzscapes.

—Phyllis Louke