August 2006 Convention
Pittsburgh, PA

A Performer’s View: Flute Choirs

August 10, 12, 13, 2006

As an active flute choir and ensemble performer, conductor and composer, and big flute junkie, I was privileged to be a part of several programs at this year’s convention. Because of my long-standing friendship and performing relationship with fellow flute choir director and big flute devotee Paige Long, I was invited to play contrabass and double contrabass flutes with the Florida Flute Orchestra and the New England Conservatory Summer Metropolitan Flute Orchestra conducted by Long on Friday’s noon atrium concert.

Phyllis Avidan Louke

Phyllis Avidan Louke

I had previously performed with the Florida Flute Orchestra on their concert tour to France in 2005, as well as at the 2006 Florida Flute Fair. Their convention program consisted of Michelle J. Regan’s charming Dance Suite; my own As Eagles Flew, newly composed in memory of Florida flutist Nancy Clew’s husband Bob Clew; and Christopher Caliendo’s rhythmic and exciting La Milonga.

The NEC Flute Orchestra performed Arie di Corte from Ancient Airs and Dances by Respighi, arranged by Yoshiko Takama; three movements of Quator for Four Flutes by Dubois; and a new arrangement of Fillmore’s Lassus Trombone arranged by Claudia Bissett for three contrabass flutes and flute orchestra. The program ended with the combined flute orchestras playing Massenet’s Ballet Suite from Le Cid, transcribed by Shaul Ben-Meir.

The National Flute Choir was featured on Saturday’s Flute Choir Showcase. As contrabass flutist and member of the bass flute section of the group, we have recorded 10 CDs under the leadership of founder and director Amy Rice Blumenthal. The concert’s theme was “A Celebration of Anniversaries and Premieres.” The program featured pieces premiered in 1982 with the first National High School Flute Choir conducted by Blumenthal, including Fanfare by Amy Rice-Young, Bolero by Ravel, arranged by Amy Rice-Young, Cecil Effinger’s Cloud Forms, and The Pink Panther Suite by Mancini, arranged by Amy Rice-Young. There were two world premieres on the program: O Northern Star by Stephen Pollack and the rhythmic Latin number Caderas (The Hips) by Michael Coolen. In addition, Martha Rearick’s arrangement of the Andante from Symphony No. 4, “Italian,” served as a tribute to Rearick, who died recently.

The Professional Flute Choir conducted by Steven Byess performed on Sunday morning. This ensemble is comprised of auditioned performers selected from the Professional Flute Choir competition held by the NFA. I have performed on bass flute with this group since 1993 and feel that this was one of the best groups we’ve had in recent years. The program featured Shostakovich’s Festive Overture newly arranged by Nicholas Dragga, Kelly Via’s beautiful Appalachian Suite, Gary Shocker’s charming Pop, NFA Newly Published Music Competition winner Of Wizards and Witches by myself, the challenging A Pantry Ballet in Four Acts for Flute Choir by Martin Kennedy, and the funky Johnny’s Sketch by Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, arranged by Lindsay Beasley. The PFC reprised A Pantry Ballet on the Sunday evening Gala concert.

—Phyllis Avidan Louke