August 2016 Convention
San Diego, CA

Kaleidascope Closing Concert: Part 2

Robert Aitken

Following the piccolo performance of Bozza’s piece (see Part 1), the program then veered back to new music, with eminent flutist-composer Robert Aitken offering Edgard Varèse’s “Late Notes from Berlin,” an early version of the composer’s iconic Density 21.5, described by Aitken as “one-third higher and two thirds shorter.” This segued into a brief improvisation, the entire performance given in memory of another musical giant who died this year, Aurèle Nicolet. The mood remained pensive with Yale Professor Ransom Wilson, joined by pianist Lillian Buss Pearson, in the U.S. premiere of the flute/piano version of Charles-Marie Widor’s Suite Florentine, originally for violin and piano.

The Alt(r)e Frequenze Piccolo Quartet with Nicola Mazzanti (center)


The piccolo got an encore, thanks to Daniela Vilasi, Alessandra Aitini, Fosca Briante, and Carlotta Ramponi, students of piccolo virtuoso Nicola Mazzanti who call themselves the Alt(r)e Frequenze Piccolo Quartet. Their world premiere of Giorgio Tortora’s GT 67 was a joyous romp.

Standing Ovation


Denis Bouriakov

Lillian Buss Pearson returned, this time with Los Angeles Philharmonic Principal Flutist Denis Bouriakov, and the two offered a jaw-droopingly virtuosic account of Niccolò Paganini’s violin work La Campanella. In another year, this may well have been the finale, but that slot went to PROJECT Trio (Greg Pattillo, flute; Eric Stephenson, cello; Peter Seymour, bass) and their over-the-top energetic performance of an original tune, Djangish.

Zart Dombourian-Eby

Outgoing NFA President Zart Dombourian-Eby took the stage to recognize the outstanding work of those who made the convention possible: John Bailey and Nicaulis Alliey, program chair and assistant program chair; Kimberlee Goodman and Jack McCurdy, equipment chair and assistant equipment chair; Paula Gudmundson, stage manager; Townes Osborn Miller, volunteer coordinator; Cindy Anne Broz, local arrangements chair; and Kelly Jocius, Kris Mayo, and Vicky Pampe, who form the core of NFA’s administrative team. Also recognized were this year’s NFA interns, as well as outgoing officers and board members. NFA Vice President (and incoming President) Kyle Dzapo paid a tribute to a visibly moved Dombourian-Eby.

Results of this year’s election were also announced: Cristina Ballatori, Mary Kay Fink, and Mimi Stillman will join the board, while Tabatha Easley was elected assistant secretary and Joanna Bassett vice president. As a final order of business, the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award and Distinguished Service Award recipients were named: longtime Detroit Symphony Principal Flutist Ervin Monroe and recently retired Baltimore Symphony Solo Piccoloist Laurie Sokoloff, luminaries whose legendary careers warrant such recognition, and Linda Mintener, the NFA’s longtime legal advisor.

Dombourian-Eby ended by tearfully closing the convention, conducting the traditional mass performance of J. S. Bach’s “Air” from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D, BWV 1068, in which all enjoyed collaborating with the excellent Lillian Buss Pearson. See you in Minneapolis!

The traditional mass performance of J. S. Bach’s “Air”

Editor’s note: Read about the first portion of the Gala Kaleidoscope Concert and Closing Ceremonies here.

—Timothy Hagen

photos by Brian Covington