August 2009 Convention
New York, NY

Flute On Its Feet

Those attending the convention’s concert Thursday will remember Zara Lawler as the opening feature. Indeed, that’s what it was, an opening to further inspiring things to come. On Saturday, Lawler and dancer/choreographer C. Neil Parsons enlightened and engaged their audience in the presentation Flute On Its Feet.

Lawler began the session by performing the first three movements of Liebermann’s Soliloquy for solo flute. As she played, Parsons danced, pairing the music with fluid movements while he moved across the stage. The performance modeled a few ideas explored in the session and easily transitioned all from concert to class as Parsons eagerly asked for volunteers to join them. The evening proceeded with periods of attendee interaction and presenter performance.

Parsons provided instruction and inspiration in movement, warming up the group with neck swings and writing in the air. Throughout, he emphasized with words and infectious smiles to help participants feelat ease moving around. Lawler joined in by teaching all the opening few notes and movements of her performance from Thursday night—showing us all we could do the things she was doing.

The session progressed with a game of “Music Machine,” in which one by one each participant introduced a musical motif paired with a physical movement. By the end of the “game,” sevent volunteers enjoyed themselves performing their new work in what appeared to be, but was not, rehearsed.

Lawler gave the attendees a brief rest as she performed Debussy’s Syrinx, Hoover’s Kokopeli, and Varese’s Density 21.5. Each selection was highlighted with story-like narrative interspersed with music and accompanied with body movement. She breathed new life into works, turning them from “static” to “moving.”

Audience participation continued with a new version of the “Music Machine Game,” this one with “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”Parsons coached a group of about 15, taking their movement ideas and coordinating them to music. The result: a newly arranged rendition of the song performed by all 15 players as a large ensemble group!

Through questions and answers, Lawler and Parsons shared their enthusiasm and insights on combining music and movement, both having found the combination liberating. Lawler confided she has more energy in her playing, improved breath control, and feels less stress performing. These were all obvious in her tone, control, and seemingly effortless musical performance and instruction. In short, the engaging and enthusiastic presentation was a convention high point—motivating and inspiring!

—Sharon Winton