Join an Ensemble!

If an opportunity hasn’t found you then

maybe it is time for you to CREATE it!

Happy New year!!!

2013 is already shaping up to be an amazing year for flute players around Australia and beyond! The Australian Flute Festival will be held this year, there is talk of persuading the amazingly talented Clare Southworth to visit us and share her knowledge, the first international flute festival will be held in Bruges (for those able to travel) and the list goes on… But what about the time in between these events? What opportunities exist for flute students both young an old beyond attending a weekly lesson, practicing hard and preparing for your upcoming exam or perhaps recital (be it for friends and family or for a broader audience)? There are many opportunities to play in an ensemble, be it a flute ensemble, local band, orchestra or mixed instrument/chamber ensemble – we just have to find them!

This month we have decided to look at what opportunities are ‘out there’ for flute players of all ages to get involved in playing as part of a group, meeting new people and having some great experiences whilst developing ensemble skills…. Playing in an ensemble is a crucial part of any musician’s development, the skills required are vast, play in tune, listen to those around you, play your part sensitively, present your music beautifully yet still be part of the group, know what the other parts are doing, where does your part of the music fit, how does it fit, who is loud when you are soft or soft when you are loud, where is the melody, are you dividing the beats accurately so all of the notes that are together sound at the same time and so on…

So, now you have realised (if you hadn’t already) just how important it is to play as part of a group regardless of age or level of playing you might like to think about looking for a group to join…

A list of Australian flute ensembles currently open to new members either by simply turning up or by audition can be found here

We encourage you to get out there and join in NOW! If you cannot see something in your area, please get in touch with us and we will be happy to assist you in finding a group near you (please be sure to provide a correct return email address so we can contact you though!)

Opportunities for younger players of all levels.

The obvious thing here is to join the band or other ensemble at school but what if your school doesn’t have an instrumental program or what if you are quite advanced at your instrument and find the band program is not challenging enough? There are many many opportunities out there including:

  • Get in contact with your region’s youth orchestra or youth music program – eligibility for these orchestra’s and their associated ensembles are usually audition based and applications close quite early in the year so do not delay!
  • Ask your instrumental teacher for advice on finding an ensemble and/or help in getting one together
  • Talk to your friends! If you play the flute and have a friend who plays piano for example why not get together and have some fun playing music.  You don’t even have to be at the same level, simply taking turns at improvising a melody regardless of range or difficulty over an agreed base pattern will help your musical development and build confidence.
  • Talk to the music teacher at school – just because there is no formal ensemble in a school doesn’t mean there are no musicians! Similarly if there is only a beginner level band or ensemble it doesn’t mean that there are no advanced level musicians at the school and vice versa. If a teacher knows that someone is interested in starting a group they will help you find other members – all you have to do is ask!

Opportunities for adult players of all levels

It is often challenging for adults, particularly those who are beginners in their chosen instrument to find a group to join. It can feel as though everything is aimed at younger school aged players or very advanced/professional level players but this is actually not the case!

There are a number of ensembles which are run exclusively for adults learning an instrument, it just takes a little time and effort to find them. And if there isn’t (or doesn’t appear to be) a group in your area?

  • Ask your teacher if they have any other adult students and consider starting a group of your own!
  • Put an advert in your local paper seeking expressions of interest from other adult instrumentalists in your area.
  • For the more technology literate folk, why not put something on facebook?
  • Contact your local flute society for help and to seek interest from other flute players in your area
  • Be creative!  Are you in a choir?  Consider talking to your choir director about including a song which has or could have a flute part included in it, find a friend who ‘played and instrument once’ and encourage them to get back into playing so that the two of you can play duets, think outside the box!

There are many opportunities out there, we just have to find them! Be that as simple as locating an existing group to join or starting a completely new group!

Don’t be shy, don’t procrastinate, and above all else don’t wait for someone else to do something! Get together and play music with other musicians NOW, TODAY, TOMORROW, ANYTIME… You will have a blast and your playing will improve too!!!

Wishing you all a musical and fun 2013!

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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

Fisenden Flute Ensemble

The Fisenden Flute Ensemble ( FFE ) is a group of passionate professional West Australian flute players who have, in recent years, made significant strides in developing their craft as world class performers and have garnered a great deal of attention both at National and International levels.

The FFE (a not for profit group) was formed in 2007 by their Director, Neil Fisenden , who after an esteemed career as a well known orchestral Principal Flautist, ( in both the Adelaide and West Australian Symphony Orchestras for over 30 years ) decided to embark on a long held dream to provide younger professional players with a performance avenue that would be both challenging and ground breaking. To this end he set about purchasing a Contra Bass flute (the first in the Southern Hemisphere) and bass and alto flutes that would provide the group with the necessary full spectrum of flute range and sounds. The vision also included forming a non-professional group of more inexperienced players called the Fisenden Flute Orchestra who were afforded the same opportunities of ensemble training.

Being proudly Australian, Neil and the FFE is passionate about encouraging Australian composers and passionate about show casing their music to the world! It needs to be noted that many of the pieces written for this type of ensemble hail from the U.S. and are largely arrangements of known works but not always applicable to Australian audiences. Whilst entertaining, these works do not necessarily challenge either the listener or the player a great deal. So, the FFE set about encouraging Australian composers to write works specifically for the group. The resultant works have been fantastic.

The first major FFE self funded project was attending the 37th National Flute Association’s Convention in New York in 2009 to perform as an invited Ensemble. For this performance a work was commissioned by Fisenden Music to be debuted at the Convention. The work “Telegraphed” was written by Iain Grandage and subsequently recorded by the FFE for their first C.D of the same name. The debut of this exciting work with its haunting indigenous quality was hugely successful as it explored new and fascinating textures and technical challenges that hadn’t been heard before. Other Australian composers were also featured in this New York programme.

As a result of this success the Ensemble was asked to perform as invited soloists at the Australian Flute Festivals in Adelaide in 2009 and in Canberra in 2011. The Ensemble has organised and performed many fund raising concerts in their home city of Perth to facilitate these trips. Last year they performed a concert for The Woodwind Group in Sydney to an enthusiastic audience. On the strength of their success in New York they were invited to submit a proposal to attend the 2012 National Flute Association’s 40
th Convention in Las Vegas this year. After a rigorous audition process the FFE was invited to attend as the highly profiled Main International Ensemble. They will travel to and perform at Caesar’s Palace ( The NFA Convention venue) in Las Vegas from August 7th to the 13th and perform two concerts at this prestigious world class event. Prior to their trip the FFE will be staging a concert on Sunday July 29th at The University of Western Australia’s Callaway Auditorium. The concert will start at 3 p.m. and will feature Melbourne based Low Flutes Specialist Mr. Peter Sheridan who will be flown from Melbourne for this event (click here to view the flyer for this event). Peter Sheridan is regarded as one of the finest exponents of Low Flutes in the world and will be a fascinating addition to a fantastic concert also featuring the new works commissioned for the Fisenden Flute Ensemble to be played in the U.S. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear the FFE and to wish them well as they represent Australia at this world class event.

Listen to the FFE:

 Find the FFE on Facebook

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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