August 2005 Convention
San Diego, CA

The Mirror of the World: Folk Influences in Flute Music from Marais to Today

Friday, August 12

Mimi Stillman, 23, presented a fascinating journey of folk influences on flute music. She began by performing and explaining how Marais’ Les Folies d’ Espagne blurred classical and popular music of the baroque period and was a “hit tune” in the 1700s. She then performed Debussy’s “Mandoline” to highlight French perceptions of Spain in a later period.

Mimi Stillman

Mimi Stillman

Stillman organized her talk into three parts, showing European, American, and Latin aspects of her theme. She pointed out the importance of nationalism during the 19th century in the development of folk music for flute, playing a movement from the Schulhoff Sonata, and moved toward how American composers searched for a national style, which she illustrated with Copland’s Duo, while still sometimes retaining their own heritage in their works. To highlight her point, Stillman played

Amram’s “Red River Valley” and “Zohar,” which are influenced by jazz and his Jewish heritage, and Rahbee’s Armenian sounding Five Bagatelles. Later, while talking about the integral role that popular music plays in Latin music, especially Venezuelan and Cuban dance forms, she let us hear Vals Venezolana and Contradanza by D’Rivera. Stillman discussed the fusion of works such as Amerindian and Afrocuban music, which created new genres, and followed these with a rendition of Libertango by Piazzolla. The program ended with two Braziian choros by Pixinguinha and Carrilho.

Stillman’s playing was charmingly beautiful, all played by memory as always, along with the accomplished Linda Mark on piano. Her presentation was scholarly yet presented in a conversational tone, and interspersed with humor, which made it entertaining and easy to digest. She switched back and forth from speaking to playing with dazzling speed, barely taking time to set the fllute on her lips. Stillman’s passion for her subject matter was tangible. She spoke as though what she said mattered, as though it was vitally important, as though music and its secrets were one of the keys to life.

—Helen Spielman