August 2014 Convention
Chicago, IL

Gala Concerto Concert

Report 1

The Saturday evening concert is a highlight of the NFA’s annual convention, and this year’s concert was no exception! Performing with the Chicago Philharmonic in its home at the Chicago Symphony Center, world-famous flutists and piccoloists performed baroque, classical, and 20th- and 21st-century works for flute or piccolo and orchestra.

Robert Dick and the Chicago Philharmonic

The concert ignited with Flash! for piccolo and orchestra (2008, orch. 2013) by Daniel Dorff, performed by Sarah Jackson. This energetic and upbeat piece, originally for piccolo and piano, was reworked for this occasion. Jackson masterfully oscillated among the many characters presented in this work and performed highly technical passages with brilliance and effervescence.

Mary Kay Fink

Leone Buyse performed J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 2 in B Minor with a chamber orchestra that included harpsichordist Shalev Ad-El. The configuration of the orchestra at the front of the stage, with all members standing, created a very intimate musical setting within the large symphony hall. Buyse did a wonderful job weaving in and out of the musical texture of the piece and added delicate ornaments that made the flute sound sparkle. This beautiful performance allowed listeners to reflect on the history of the concerto tradition and the memorable melodies in this masterpiece.

Following, Robert Dick performed his Concerto for flute/bass flute, strings, and percussion. With the return of the full strings and percussion, Dick explored many timbres; the strings employed extended techniques and the percussion created numerous distinctive sounds. These formed a landscape for Dick to tell a story on flute and the bass flute with soaring lines, introspective moments, and of course his masterful use of flute extended techniques. A surprise toward the end of the piece was the addition of the steel drum. It added a special sonority the work and complimented Dick’s beautiful playing perfectly!

After intermission, Mary Kay Fink performed Will-O-The-Wisp: A Tone Poem for piccolo and orchestra (2013) by Gabriela Lena Frank. This piece stretched the comfortable range of the piccolo with high, soft passages and low, loud passages, both performed effortlessly by Fink. The dreamy quality of the piece was marked with energetic moments, which created a perfect balance for the overall character of the piece.

The concert ended with a performance by Julien Beaudiment of W.A. Mozart’s Concerto No. 2 in D Major for flute and orchestra. Beaudiment’s articulation and sound allowed the famous melodies to float through Symphony Center. His performance served as a wonderful finale to the evening of fantastic flute and piccolo music.

—Karen McLaughlin Large


Gala Concerto Concert

Report 2

Julien Beaudiment

The Saturday evening concert is always a highlight of the convention, and it was further heightened this year by its setting at Chicago Symphony Center. It was a rare treat to hear five eminent soloists performing with the excellent Chicago Philharmonic in this magnificent hall.

The concert began after opening remarks with the world premiere of Daniel Dorff’s orchestral transcription of his piece Flash!, originally for piccolo and piano. Los Angeles Philharmonic solo piccolo Sarah Jackson played with panache and ease, proving why she is so well loved. Additionally touching was conductor Clyde Mitchell’s affection for his wife and her artistry.

Second came Leone Buyse, Mullen Professor of Flute at Rice University and globetrotting performer, playing J.S. Bach’s Suite in B Minor, also with Maestro Mitchell. Buyse’s performance was consistently elegant, as well as pitch-perfect in both style and expression. The fact that this great work is not a concerto per se was reflected in the sensitive collaboration between soloist and orchestra, who seamlessly traded in musical prominence.

Next, lifetime achievement award recipient Robert Dick offered a compelling performance of his Concerto for flute/bass flute, strings, and percussion. Flutists are familiar with Dick’s revolutionary solo works, but this performance exposed us to his mastery of orchestration. Throughout the opening two movements, “through a morphic landscape” and “Elegy,” Maestro Cliff Colnot coaxed timbres from the ensemble that melded perfectly with Dick’s extraordinary playing, creating a distinct, riveting soundscape. The rollicking finale  (“Space Party!”) incorporated Dick’s love of rock and blues idioms, blasting us off to intermission.

Maestro Colnot returned with Cleveland Orchestra solo piccolo, Mary Kay Fink, performing Gabriela Lena Frank’s Will-O-The-Wisp, a tone poem for piccolo and orchestra written for her and premiered this spring with her colleagues in Cleveland. Frank was on hand for a gorgeous performance that emphasized not only the piccolo’s innate virtuosity but also the beautiful, soft whispers that can be achieved by a master like Fink.

The evening closed with the return of Maestro Mitchell and another L.A. Philharmonic flutist, principal Julien Beaudiment, performing the beloved warhorse, Mozart’s Concerto in D Major. Not content to render an elegant, exciting musical performance, Beaudiment teamed up with Mitchell to offer hilarious (and bawdy) banter before starting as well as a few theatrical bits during the piece. It was an entertaining, high-energy end to a special evening.

Chicago Philharmonic at Symphony Hall


Sarah Jackson

—Timothy Hagen

photos by Brian Covington