Carla Rees – An Interview

Happy NEW YEAR to all our readers out there!

I had the wonderful opportunity to have a brief chat to the outstanding British Low Flutes specialist, Carla Rees the other day. This extraordinary performer, arranger and improviser has contributed so much to promotion and enthusiasm of these instruments, that it is only fitting to have her intriguing story as our very first ‘featured artist.’ We hope you enjoy the story and performance links.

Carla Rees


I first played an alto on a flute course as a teenager and fell in love with it. I lived in a rural area where there weren’t many flute teachers, and began teaching at the age of 14 after I did ABRSM Grade 8. I charged £3 a lesson, and saved up until I had enough to buy an alto flute. They were hard to find at that time, and I managed to get a second hand Monnig for £1000  – it changed my life! I loved the sound, and it opened up a lot of opportunities because I was the only one that had one. My first lessons on alto didn’t come until much later -when I was at the Royal College of Music, there was a masterclass once with Mary Karen Clardy, which helped me realise I was on the right track, and later Simon Channing joined the faculty. He ​did some orchestral alto playing and was kind enough to give me some lessons. By the end of my undergraduate I was convinced I wanted to specialise on alto – and later added bass (and now contrabass) to my low flutes collection.



It’s hard to say exactly because my archives were lost in a house fire in 2011. I started working with composers around 15 years ago, and now I get sent a new piece through the call for scores nearly every week. I think it’s probably close to around 800 pieces that have​​ been written for me, but a smaller number (300 maybe) that have been written as part of a closer collaboration with composers.​ My ensemble, rarescale, premieres around 30 pieces a year, and I do more premieres with other projects too. I’ve also had nearly 100 works written specially for Kingma System low flutes.



​I started off wanting to specialise on chamber music repertoire for the alto flute in around 2000. At that time there were very few published pieces, and what I could find was either too musically bland or extreme contemporary repertoire, neither of which were particularly suitable for me at the time. So I set about to create the repertoire, and formed rarescale as a flexible chamber ensemble in 2003 to help promote the works through performance, and in 2012 I launched Tetractys Publishing to make some of the pieces available to the general public.​



​When I was at the RCM, I was lucky enough to come into contact with Michael Oliva, an electroacoustic composer. He has a particular interest in writing music for low woodwind instruments, so it was inevitable that we’d start a collaboration. We’ve been working together now for around 15 years, and his music incredibly idiomatic for low flutes. ​ He understands the instruments​ and his language combines the tradition of Debussy, Ravel and Scriabin with the spectral language of Murail. It’s music that has something expressive to say, and which is a real pleasure to play.



​My Masters research was on the history of the alto flute since Boehm. During that time (1999 ish) I heard about Eva Kingma’s development of a quartertone system flute. I was finding the closed holes of the alto flute a major obstacle in musical expression – I had studied a little bit with Robert Dick and extended techniques were (and still are) part of my musical language. I was a major frustration having to deal with the​ limitations of a closed hole alto – so I approached Eva about a Kingma system alto.  The system has developed and refined since then, ​and the ergonomics, as well as head joint design, have improved significantly. Now you can do more with a Kingma System alto than a standard C flute, and my doctoral research explores how the Kingma System can be used to develop repertoire on both alto and bass flute. As part of it I made websites about each instrument – and it’s an enormous privilege to be part of the dialogue between composers and makers, and the repertoire, and the instrument itself, develops as a result of this dialogue.



​I love the diversity of my low flute playing colleagues, and it’s a real honour to be able to work with them. Each one of the world leading players has their own area of special interest, and a personal repertoire develops around them. Every time I get to work with them I learn more and more – and have a great time too!​



​That’s a hard one – so many great pieces! Michael Oliva’s Apparition and Release has become something of a theme tune for me – we’ve performed it over 80 times now I think. But there are sooo many great pieces in different styles…I could give you a massive list!!​



​Low flutes are becoming increasingly important in the flute world. When I started out it was several years before I met anyone else with an alto flute – now everyone has them. It’s a very exciting time – the repertoire that has been developed over the last 15 years is now starting to be played by more people, and the instruments are improving all the time. ​


RECORDINGS (Sound files):

Michael’s Apparition and Release –

Multitracked arrangement of Lotti –

And a bit of Bach –

The Art of Elegant Conversation – Elysium Ensemble

Review by Angus McPherson

Johann Joachim Quantz (1697-1773)

Sei Duetti, op. 2 (1959)


  The Art of Elegant Conversation, a recording of Johann Joachim Quantz’s Sei Duetti by Greg Dikmans and Lucinda Moon of the Elysium Ensemble, is the first of a series of recordings intended to promote newly discovered and hitherto neglected chamber music from the Baroque and early-Classical periods. Despite the fame Quantz enjoys in the flute community, particularly for his treatise Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen (1752) and some of his better-known sonatas and concertos, much of his vast compositional output remains unpublished and unrecorded. Performed on period instruments and informed by a close study of the Versuch, this CD is a thoughtful and sensitive exploration of Quantz’s rarely performed Sei Duetti.   From 1741 until his death in 1773, Quantz served in the court of King Frederick II of Prussia, a flute player and an avid music lover. Quantz was Frederick’s flute teacher and was responsible for the King’s private chamber music concerts; he was also the only member of the court permitted to critique the King’s flute playing. Written as didactic works (in his preface to the score, Quantz extolls the virtues of playing duets as an important part of a musician’s training) it is not impossible that the Sei Duetti were first played by Quantz and King.   Although Quantz composed these duets for two flutes, in his preface he outlines a number of different possible instrumental combinations, writing: “In general, duets as well as trios produce a better and more intelligible effect on two instruments of different type than upon instruments of the same kind.” The combination of flute and violin used in this recording is particularly effective. The two distinct timbres provide clarity between the voices, allowing the listener to follow Quantz’s two-part writing and enhancing the impression of a sophisticated dialogue. Dikmans and Moon form a crisp, well-balanced ensemble, their parts weaving independently at times before joining together in perfectly synchronised flourishes. The result is beautiful, engaging and far more interesting than one would expect from over an hour of flute duets.   This CD will be fascinating for those interested in the music of Quantz and the style that straddles the end of the Baroque and beginning of the Classical period. Well-researched and insightful, this performance is also an excellent example of the practical applications of the study of Quantz’s Versuch. A PDF scan of the first edition of the score, from 1759, is available from the International Music Score Library Project for those who want to delve more deeply into this music.   The Art of Elegant Conversation is a charming, multifaceted recording that will delight both casual listeners and aficionados of historically informed performance. Dikmans and Moon have taken Quantz’s duets, deceptively light on the surface, and turned them into a conversation that is stimulating as well as elegant.   The Art of Elegant Conversation is available from Resonus Classics and iTunes.

All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates

Flute Essentials


Friday 14 November 2014 New York Time

(available until 4pm Saturday 15th 2014 Sydney time)

To claim your copy follow this link ( and enter the coupon code NN84H to receive your free copy

Flute Essentials Cover


My name is Drew Niemeyer and I am a woodwind technician working at Blow Woodwind and Brass in Brisbane. I am writing a series of books containing information, not about playing the flute, but about the flute from a more technical standpoint.

I have noticed that many parents and even many teachers know very little about what to look for in a flute, i.e. what good and poor quality is, and what a flute needs in upkeep and care. Many teachers are allowing their students to buy instruments that are almost guaranteed to cause frustration and disillusionment. Some instruments are completely unfixable and it is sad to see so many people give up flute for a reason such as this.

From my bench as a repair technician I see the results of the choices people make. Damage is more often caused by neglect than recklessness, and I speak to clients every day about how to care for their instruments properly. Flutes made with low quality parts are often very expensive to fix properly, and the result for these people is an instrument that is not working as well as it should most of the time.

I wrote Flute Essentials because this problem is so wide spread.

This first book in the series is a very broad (but concise) outline of what people should be looking for in flutes, how to go about purchasing one, how to care for it, as well as some tips about getting the most from the instrument when you do begin to play. It will be especially good for parents looking to buy a first flute, and teachers may also find the book useful to encourage parents in their choices.

Taking up flute can be a big commitment. Flute Essentials delves into the necessity of obtaining a good quality flute for enjoyment, describes how this can be done, and explains how it is within the reach of almost anyone that desires to have it.

For more information contact Drew at or visit the website


About the Author: Drew has provided his services as a professional woodwind technician to musicians for over 20 years. His career has included teaching and performance, and has been highlighted by various prizes and awards. He is based at Blow Woodwind and Brass in Brisbane, Australia, and services clients throughout the Asia-Pacific Region.


View the Flute Essentials Press Release here

For information on purchasing flute essentials and to view a preview of this book please visit


All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates

What is the ‘midi flute’ and it’s function?


Regarding the Pierre Boulez: “…explosante-fixe…” a work for MIDI flute solo, live electronics, and chamber ensemble. Does anyone know about this ‘midi flute’ and it’s function. Is it some type of electronica or another instrument?”


It seems to be a flute combined with a fingering detection system. There is a clearer description here:


Got anything to add?  Please feel free to post your input regarding the above question in the comments field below.

All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates

Why did Joachim Anderson write the 8 performance pieces for flute and piano (Op.55)?

The following question was received from a curious Australian flutist…

“The wonderful flautist Joachim Anderson wrote a set of 8 performance pieces for flute and piano (No.6 Scherzino seems to be the most well known) and I’m wondering if anyone knows ‘why’ he wrote this particular set. A commission? A competition? Perhaps it was simply because he enjoyed writing for flute, but I’m curious if there was another motive. Thoughts?”


Here are the responses we received via our network.  Please feel free to add input via the comment’s section below.

“The 8 Performance Pieces for Flute and Piano, Op.55 were published in 1894 by Zimmermann Leipzig. That means Andersen lived at that time in Copenhagen, because of a desease of his tongue he was not able to play flute anymore.

Kyle Dzapo, the American flute player, has written a book about Andersen: Joachim Andersen : a bio-bibliography / Kyle J. Dzapo ; foreword by Walfrid Kujala. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.

A short excerpt can be found on: item_code=8.572277&catNum=572277&filetype=About%20this%20Recording&language=English

She writes about contact of Andersen with Paul Taffanel around the 1890th, so it could have been with him in mind that Andersen composed opus 55.   I have also read that Marcel Moyse has played for him (year?).” Mia



“With regard to Andersen’s Op. 55: Andersen composed these pieces as he was making a difficult transition from his career in Berlin, as founding solo flutist of the Berlin Philharmonic, to a fresh start back in his native Copenhagen. Health problems forced him to terminate his flute performance career and resign his position with the Philharmonic in April 1893 after nearly a year-and-a-half of decreasing performances. The Op. 55 collection was published by Zimmermann in 1894 as Andersen was trying to earn money and establish himself as a conductor in his native city. Unlike most of his works, he offered no dedication for this collection. While he played many of his earlier compositions in Berlin (and created some of them for performances with the Philharmonic where he was a very popular soloist), he was no longer performing when he composed Op. 55. He was no doubt pleased when several of his students performed them at venues in Copenhagen around the turn of the century.

As to competition pieces: Only Andersen’s Deuxième Morceau de Concert, Op. 61, was composed specifically as a competition piece. It was commissioned by Paul Taffanel in 1895 and used as the Paris Conservatory’s concours piece in 1897. (Due to some miscommunication between Taffanel and Andersen, Concertstück, Op. 3, written many years earlier, was selected for the 1895 concours.) I am currently working with Zimmermann toward a new edition of Concertstück, Op. 3. It is planned for release later this year.” Kyle Dzapo


All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates

What do I really Sound like?

Janet Bordeaux is a Flutist & Composer and she has been kind enough to share with us the following story!

“I had an amazing opportunity to go to a master class with Trevor Wye when I was a new flutist. One story he told really struck me: the person playing does not hear the same sound as the listener in the hall. He recounted doing an experiment where he had one person play, another stand next to the player, and one at the back of the room. After the flutist played, he asked him what he heard in the tone, answer: “breathiness and popping.” Next he asked the person stand beside the player; Answer “same thing, I could hear air sounds as well as the tone.” Now the person at the back of the room responds; “I didn’t hear any air sounds or popping…just pretty tones!”

Mr. Wye had done this experiment many times always with the same result. His conclusion: “The performer on the flute is at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to tone, because of the nature of how the instrument is played. We blow much of our air over the flute and away from us, so the sound moves away from our ears, but toward the ears of our listeners. So we can never truly hear ourselves as others do!”

So my suggestion is to give your students every opportunity to hear themselves from across the room: invest in as good a quality digital recorder and place it at least 5 feet away (if possible) and let them hear what you hear. I personally have a distaste for hearing myself on a recording, but every time I do, it teaches me valuable lessons. And I must say, 8 years after that master class, I am still grateful to Mr Wye for the insight!

One other bit: I ran across a YouTube video of a man recounting a story about Louie Armstrong: “Always play for someone you love” – that video has changed my performance in amazing ways.” View that video here


All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates





It all started in 1983 when I was in high school and my music teacher sent an aspiring young student to do work experience with a woodwind repair man called Don Archer for two weeks  It was to become a journey that has continued to the current day, 31 years later. The place seemed to appeal to someone who wanted to spend time with instruments in hand between the study and practice of a novice player, however it was quickly expressed that to pursue this craft it would be important to study music in depth as mastery of an instrument is key to understanding the functional and mechanical aspects of it through playing and feeling the results of a well set up instrument.  This resulted in my studying undergraduate music studies at the Victorian college or the arts in Melbourne (1989-1991) and postgraduate study at the Sweelinck Conservatorium Amsterdam (1992-94) and then the ANU school of music (1995-96)

By this time I had found (between study and teaching/playing gigs) an English gentleman named Geoff Speed. It was under him that I really began to develop skills in repair of wind instruments. This gave the basis that would lead to more than just repair and flowed on to making of flutes, head joints, high end padding techniques that are a must in todays flute world and my business.

Working with Geoff, I  covered all aspects of repair, dent work, key fitting and alignment, and re-padding as well as understanding the acoustic needs of the instrument, pad heights, pad thickness. It was an intense time of learning how the instrument functions as well as understanding the needs of the player and how different players respond to the setup of the flute. Geoff also encouraged me to travel to the USA and attend conferences, visit factories and makers, to seek knowledge.

This process never stopped and I am glad for his initial encouragement to keep thinking about the instrument I was working on and seek people who knew more about the subject. Every year or so I would take time from my workbench to seek to better the skills that had now given me a full time business and supported me.

I first registered my own business here in Canberra in 1996 and called it “tritone” brass and woodwind repair and flutes in Canberra were one of the biggest parts of the business and initially the instruments were student flutes and intermediate flutes.

Eventually high end flutes were coming into the shop, flues that required very special pads, materials that required different techniques to install and prepare for than the student Yamaha’s that were so central to the business.  My focus then shifted to concentrate on getting certified in these more specialised techniques, using pads that had the closest tolerances to 4 thousands of an inch, pads that were no longer soft felt type pads to the firm pads that would produce great results with the lightest technique. This means that the mechanics of the flute needed to run at the same tolerances. For this I started to visit makers, people like David Straubinger (who learned his craft from Bickford Brannen and developed the Straubinger pad),web002-1 Johnathan Landell (who learned is craft from Verne Powell) and Harry van Eckert who still makes flutes for Powell today. They all had their roots with one of the finest and oldest high end flute makers, Powell of Boston. This company took the louis lot design on in the late 1800’s to make really modern flutes, and then bought the Cooper system of tone hole placement to make a flute that had very good intonation.

This resulted in a great investment in education and tools and pads for the workshop, it transformed my understanding of the geometry of the flute, the dynamics of how the pads under the players fingers needed to feel and most importantly the understanding of the head joint, creating the sound wave (this is the place where the sound begins and its so important to the whole flute), how it behaves under different conditions and in the hands of different players.  These parameters now didn’t just include the setup of the pads but also things such as the fit of the head joint, the head cork and the spring action because the flute needs to operate as a whole and if one thing isn’t correct the entire instrument is affected.

Flutists are perhaps the most sensitive of all woodwind players at the high levels of playing.  Being able to work with them to achieve something that makes them feel like the instrument is really responding well and enables them to play easily across the entire range of the instrument is central to my craft.

web053-1By 2010 I had become a Straubinger technician and I had made my first sterling silver head joint and by 2013 I had made my first flute, a silver flute with open holes, low B, french pointed arms.

It took six weeks of hard work. Filing, making tubes for the body, head and foot joint. It was a challenge that required a type of patience that was new to me in order to really understand how the flute works, theory became reality and the end result was great.


Now it is 2014 and it’s my 31st year of instrument repair and my business ‘tritone” has existed for 18 years!

I am not surprised hat so much time has past as it really feels like it takes this long to understand totally what you are trying to achieve in this business.  Last year I became an agent for David Leviston’s shop ‘Flutes and Flutists‘ something I wish to continue into the future. Although selling flutes is part of the business I consider myself a flute specialist in repair and someone who has a great understanding of making flutes, not yet a great flute maker…..

My eight year old son is my apprentice, disassembling flutes and cleaning them, the place where I started. I hope he will travel this road along with me and continue after I finish.

web007-1 055web070-1


Dirk would be happy to answer questions from anyone interested in flute repair or anyone looking for a flute service in or near the ACT.  You can contact Dirk via his website at

Please feel free to post a comment or ask questions regarding this topic below also

All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates


Aperture closes down in the upper register

his question was received from a flute teacher – please post your responses/suggestions as comments below.

“I have a young student whose aperture closes down in the upper register. Would the straw exercise or the button/string trick be beneficial to reinforce an opening?” Stephanie (January 14, 2014)


All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates

Giuliani to Tango. Sally Walker – flute, Giuseppe Zangari – guitar


Concert review by Latham Horn

(The reviewer, Latham Horn, was the only flautist to successfully audition for Prof. Johanna Dömötör’s class at the Anton-Bruckner-Privatuniversität Linz, Austria, is also one of Sally Walker’s past flute students)


On a bright and warm last day of winter acclaimed duo Sally Walker and Giuseppe Zangari presented a lunchtime concert of Argentine, Australian and Italian music for flute and guitar in the delightfully intimate theatrette of the recently redeveloped Newcastle Museum. Both Walker – international prize winning flutist formerly of the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester and the Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss am Rhein and Zangari – Italian Government scholarship recipient and faculty of the Sydney Conservatorium are lectures at the University of Newcastle Conservatorium of Music.

There was no need for programs as the performers communicated wonderfully with the substantial audience giving brilliant insight into each of the presented works.  The first work performed was the Callejon by Argentine composer Maximo Diego Pujol whom Walker will meet personally during a tour of South America later in the year. The Callejon originally existed as a work for voice and guitar, here presented as the Australian premiere in a new arrangement for flute and guitar.

The second work was the first two movements of the Grand Duo Concertante by Mauro Giuliani – the composer who is also the current subject of guitarist Zangari’s fascination and Masters research.  The first movement’s challenging technical passages for both flutist and guitarist were presented here with both control and wit – but the true artistry was evident in the second movement.  Walker’s flute sang like a great Bel Canto soprano with a tone and legato so transparent and intimate yet full of colour with a wonderfully complementing accompaniment by Zangari.

Pujol’s Viene y Va  (Comes and Goes) was next on the program. The outer first and third movements were full of excitement, joy and fire – a perfect complement to the stunning beach sun of Newcastle’s iconic Nobby’s Beach one sees on approach to the concert venue.   The second movement, a melancholic aria, was performed with absolute artistry of colour, dynamics and sentiment.  The next work Suite Buenos Aires (also by Pujol) included an impressive introduction for solo guitar, displaying Zangari’s technical facility and command of extended techniques.

The last work of the program was by Australian composer and guitarist Philip Houghton.  From the Dreaming has become quite popular amongst flutists with frequent performances around Australia and internationally in numerous arrangements including for flute and orchestra; flute and string quartet and in its original here presented on flute and guitar. In an impressionistic style Houghton illustrates images and scenes of the Australian outback and wildlife, with movement names including ‘Cave Painting’, ‘Wild Flower’ and ‘Gecko’.

This was truly an inspired performance featuring musicianship and artistry of the highest calibre, leaving this listener completely musically satisfied and with goosebumps.  After two rounds of applause the audience got their wish of an encore in Cambereri’s Capricciosa, a light and fiery Tarantella in a minor key full of technical bravura and character.  Walker and Zangari will tour Sweden in early 2014 upon invitation from Swedish ensemble Haga Duo.

Please feel free to post a comment or ask questions regarding this topic.

All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates

The Fisenden Family – An Australian Flute journey

A Family Tradition continues in Melbourne: The Fisenden Family.

Flautists Neil and Rae-Helen Fisenden have shared a life of fluting and friendship for nearly 45 years and that includes 37 of them as husband and wife.

They first met at the tender age of 12 and 13 as members of the Perth Modern School’s Concert Band. Perth Modern was the first of Western Australia’s Government funded Scholarship Music Schools that began in 1967. Needing a piccolo player the Conductor of the band and esteemed flute teacher at the school, Owen Fisenden, seconded his son Neil to lead the rather inexperienced all female flute section. Neil readily agreed!

Owen Fisenden, originally from Melbourne and a student of Leslie Barklamb, was at the time the Principal Flautist of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra- a position he held for 28 years. He founded the W.A. Flute Society in 1972.  A dedicated and inspiring teacher his legacy lives on today in many of his students who have gone on to become professional players and teachers. Neil and Rae-Helen are part of that legacy and have both enjoyed careers as professional musicians. Neil as Principal Flautist of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and then following in his father’s footsteps as Principal of WASO: an orchestral career spanning 33 years. Rae-Helen followed an education pathway and apart from a rewarding career as a free-lance flautist, she is also a gifted singer and teacher of both acumens.

In 2006 Neil and Rae-Helen established Fisenden Music and have dedicated the past 7 years to teaching and to the establishment of the Fisenden Flute Ensemble- a group that has re-defined the Flute Choir as a feasible cutting edge professional ensemble committed to performing new and exciting repertoire written specifically for the group. The ensemble has garnered International acclaim and was invited to play at both the New York Flute Convention in 2009 and the Las Vegas Convention in 2012 as featured artists.

Both Neil and Rae-Helen are immensely proud of the achievements of the Fisenden Flute Ensemble for many reasons but one that stands out from a family perspective, is that the ensemble was named in honour of Neil’s father Owen (who died in 1984) and who inspired in both of them a love of the flute ensemble.

Apart from Neil and Rae-Helen, the ensembles’ fluting line-up includes their son Simon Fisenden and nephew Michael Howell. Indeed a family heritage.

Both Neil and Rae-Helen are very committed and experienced teachers and when asked to provide one sentence, which would help young flautists in their quest to improve, Neil responded: “ I use a quote from Vernon Hill actually. In every performance one needs to strive for absolute rhythmic security and complete musical conviction. That pretty much says it all. “ And Rae-Helen adds, “ One can never, never, ever underestimate the importance of thoughtful, slow practice.”

Neil and Rae-Helen move Fisenden Music to Melbourne in January 2014 to be closer to their sons Simon and Andrew Fisenden who are- surprise, surprise- both professional musicians!


Please feel free to post a comment or ask questions regarding this topic.

If you are interested in connecting with Neil and Rae-Helen please do so via the below contact details.  After their big move they will be living in the Chirnside Park area in Melbourne
Phone (Neil): 0414448550
Phone (Rae-Helen): 0404448555


All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates