August 2009 Convention
New York, NY

In Concert: Alexa Still and Ransom Wilson

In a small jam-packed convention room on Friday morning, Alexa Still was scheduled to play “Halil” Nocturne for Flute, Precussion, and Piano by Leonard Bernstein. Due to a glitch with procuring percussion equipment and players (and the expense therein), we were treated instead to a lovely performance of the Burton Sonatina. I have always had a soft spot for this piece, and Still did not disappoint. Her performance was rich in control, bringing out the gorgeous themes, particularly in the second movement. Her great sense of drama lent itself very well to this piece. Bravo for a quick change of repertoire so capably carried out.

The second half of the program featured Vermont Counterpoint, written in 1982 by Steve Reich. Ransom Wilson conducted graduates of his class at the Yale School of Music, who played C flutes/piccolo and alto flutes. I first heard this wonderful minimalist piece years ago at another NFA convention; the player was Felix Skowronek, and he had recorded all 11 parts on multiple tracks. He performed the 12th part at the convention accompanied by his recording; it was at once impressive and effective. Hearing Wilson and his group perform it this year was just as powerful. The textures and nuances were tight and extremely well-rehearsed. It is like listening to a beautiful jig-saw puzzle, all the pieces interlocking perfectly to create a cohesive whole.

—Laurie Benson