Auguste Vern – Flutist and Composer

By Tom Moore

We are lucky to have an extensive obituary for the flutist and composer Auguste Vern, who is well-represented in the printed editions from this lifetime, but, since he was from the provinces, and after his education in Paris, returned to work in the provinces, appeared relatively little in the Parisian press, and to my knowledge, does not appear in any of the musical encyclopedias of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

My translation of the obituary follows.

Obituary[i] of
Auguste Vern,
Composer of Music,
By Vergnaud-Romagnesi,
Member of the Society of Antiquaries of France, and of various Literary, Scientific, Agricultural and Philharmonic Societies in France and Abroad.

The dean of composers of instrumental music in France, and the dean of teachers of music in Orléans, M. Claude-Josephe-Auguste VERN, passed away in his 85th year, on May 18, 1854, in Orléans.

Born at Thoissay, near Macon, in 1669 [sic], he was taken at a young age to Lyon, where his parents had properties. Intended by his parents for a military career (artillery), his studies were directed to that end, and soon the siege of Lyon (1793) came to put his courage (which never failed) to the test, no more so than his principles, devoted to a wise freedom free from all excess. In the number of the vanquished after the fall of Lyon, and destined to be shot, he happily escaped the horrible massacre by throwing himself to the ground at the moment the command of “Fire!” was given, but he was wounded in the head by the grapeshot, which did not prevent him from dragging himself through the dead and dying, making his way to the Rhone, which he swam across, and making his way to Italy.

           He then took service in the same regiment with the young Bonaparte. He later was attaché to the unfortunate Maréchal Brune, for whom his brother was secretary.

           Frank and loyal in character, but a little brusque, and having become taciturn after the events marking his painful life, tormented first by the peril that he had gone through with the burning of his properties in Lyon, and then by considerable disappointments, he nonetheless maintained an inviolable attachment to this friends, an inexhaustible sympathy for his peers, and a rare disinterestedness taken to the extreme.

           But the least injustice, the least departure from good behavior exasperated him. It is thus that, seeing himself in the army as the victim of a free ride, he brusquely broke off his military career in order to devote himself entirely to the study of music, which he had, until then, although with success, only pursued in his moments of leisure.

           On returning to France and after having been applauded as flutist and oboist at the theatre of La Scala, Milan, and at that of Lyon, he came to Paris with well-founded hopes for his success, in the capital, in obtaining a place as professor at the Conservatory. It happened otherwise.

           Discouraged by this unjust lack of success, he was called on by some amateurs in Orléans to come and be heard there. Soon students were asking for him, and facilities given for publicizing his compositions by a distinguished composer-publisher musician, Sébastien Démar. The success of his first works surpassed his expectations, and he decided to settle in Orléans, seeking a little business for his estimable spouse, while he occupied the place of flute and oboe in the Orléans orchestra, then very complete. The loss of his wife came to sadden his life, and paralyze a business that an artist was scarcely appropriate to carry on.

Eighteen collections for flute and for oboe published in succession, and numerous students had brought him an honest ease that his great heart made him compromise many times.

Until the age of eighty-two he continued to hold the position of flute and oboe at the orchestra of the theater with distinction. But finally his strength could not match his persevering courage, and he had nothing more than the highly estimable recognition of people he had once obliged, and the affection of his students who competed with each other, up until his last moment, in disguising, in various ways, the aid due to his great age, and to the general feeling of estimation and affection that everyone felt for him.

His students cherished him in spite of the strictness of his teaching, the result of his zeal in teaching his art well. The musicians who were his contemporaries gave resounding praise to his talent and the progress he had brought to the flute, in marching with a new and more assured pace in the path opened by those like Devienne and Hugot.

His compositions are in general severe, with an elevated taste, and the melodies that one often finds there are full of grace and sweetness. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and lastly Reicha, were his favorite authors. Scarcely had Reicha published his immortal quintets for winds [Paris, 1817-1820], but Vern dared to propose and perform them in the provinces. The flute was given to M. Marcueyz, his student, he himself played the oboe, M. Louis played the clarinet, an excellent teacher and hornist, M. Vaillant, played that part, the bassoon was played with more zeal than talent by the author of this notice, and we owed to the musical intelligence of M. Vern an execution satisfying even for the performers of Paris, of these difficult works. There were frequent musical reunions at the house of M. Vern, and they contributed to training the numerous amateurs who still remember those fine days for instrumental music for winds in Orléans.

Toward the end of his career, M. Vern had composed some remarkable duos or songs for two English horns (voce humana[ii]). These melodies have remained unpublished along with other manuscripts that he himself destroyed with hunting fanfares for two horns.

But he left unpublished a set of oboe duos that he esteemed considerably.

The works of M. Vern are:

  1. Three duos for oboes, dedicated to M. Rime-Beaulieu.
  2. Three duos for oboes, dedicated to M. Montbarron.
  3. An opera burned in Lyon.
  4. Three quartets burned in Lyon.
  5. Six duos for flute, dedicated to Maréchal Brune.
  6. Six duos for flute, dedicated to M. de Moypia, jr.
  7. Six duos for flute, dedicated to the same.
  8. Three duos dedicated to his brother.  (This set, to which a publisher added three oboe duos arranged for flute, was arranged by M. Vern himself for two oboes and dedicated to M. Demadières-Miron[iii].
  9. Three duos for flute, dedicated to Tulou.
  10. Three duos for flute, dedicated to Vanderlick[iv].
  11. A nocturne for harp and flute, dedicated to Mlle. Démar.
  12. A theme varié for flute, dedicated to M. C. Cayot and S. Maiffredy, of Marseille.
  13. A theme varié, dedicated to M. Warbuton.
  14. Four duos for flute, dedicated to M. Marcueyz.
  15. Twelve unpublished melodies for English horn, dedicated to M. J. Ruzé.
  16. Twelve unpublished melodies for English horn, dedicated to M. Vergnaud-Romagnési.
  17. A romance, Le Preux, words by M. Vergnaud-Romagnési.
  18. A unpublished set of duos for oboes.

Numbers in this list evidently correspond to opus numbers for Vern’s published works, opp. 1-14.  Op. 3-4, given as burned in Lyon, do not survive. Nos. 15, 16, and 18 were evidently never published. No. 17 may have been published, but does not survive.


Surviving works by Vern:

Aarhus: Aarhus University Library
BNF: National Library, Paris
BL: British Library, London

3 Duos concertants pour deux hautbois, op. 1. Paris, Imbault.
=no. 1 in above list?


3 Duos concertants pour deux hautbois, op. 2. Paris, B. Pollet.
=no. 2 in above list?

Trois duos concertans pour deux hautbois composés et dédiés à son ami Charles Louis de Montbarbon… par Auguste Vern opéra 2.d. Paris, Benoît Pollet.
Mediathèques de Montpellier

3 Duos concertants pour deux clarinettes, extrait de l’oeuvre 2e des duos de hautbois, arrangés par Charles Bochsa Père. Orléans, Demar.

Six duos concertans pour deux flûtes … Œuv. 5. [Parts.]. Orléans, Chez Demar.

Duo concertant No. I-II: Op 5,1-2. Augsbourg, Gompart et Comp.
= no. 5 in above list?


6 Duos concertants pour deux flûtes, op. 6. Paris, B. Pollet.
=no. 6 in above list?

Six duos concertans pour deux flûtes, divisés en deux parties, op. VI. Paris, Melle. Demar.
University of Michigan

Six Duos concertans pour deux Flûtes. Paris.

Duo concertant pour deux flutes oeuvre 6 no. II / composés par Auguste Vern. Augsbourg : Gombert, [ca. 1810] Pl. no.: 517 –

-republished Cornetto-Verlag, c2001


6 Duos concertants pour deux flutes, op. 7. Paris, Imbault.
=no. 7 in above list?

Six duos concertants pour deux flûtes … opéra 7, [1re.-2e.] partie. A Paris, Chez Imbault.
University of Michigan

Six Duos concertants pour deux Flûtes. Op. 7. Paris.
University of Michigan

Three duetts for two flutes, op. 7, bk. 1. London, Monzani & Hill.
University of Iowa, BL

3 Duos concertants pour deux flûtes op. 8. Paris, Imbault.
=no. 8 in above list?

Trois duos concertans pour deux flûtes … oeuvre 8. A Paris, Chez Imbault.
University of Michigan, Royal Library, The Hague

Trois duo concertans pour deux flûtes, oeuvre 8, 2e. partie. Paris, Janet et Cotelle.
Central Library, Zürich


3 Duos (grands) concertants pour deux flûtes, op. 9. Paris, Janet et Cotelle.
BNF, Central Library, Zürich
=no. 9 in above list?

Trois grands duos concertans: Op 9. (S.l.)

Trois grands duos concertans pour deux flûtes oeuvre 9. Mayence, Schott.
University Library Carl von Ossietzky, Royal Library, The Hague

3 Duos (grands) concertants pour deux flûtes, op. 10. Paris, Janet et Cotelle.
=no. 10 in above list?

Trois grands duos concertans: Op 10. Bonn, Berlin, Hamburg, London, N. Simrock.
Arhus, Royal Library, The Hague, SLUB Dresden
=no. 10 in above list?


Thème varié pour flûte principale avec acc. de 2 violons alto, basse, 2 cors et hautbois, ou piano à défaut d’orchestre. Op. 12. Paris, Gannal.
BNF, Oberlin College
=no. 12 in above list?

Thème varié pour la flûte avec accompagnement de basse où de forte-piano, op. 13
Oberlin College

4 grands duos concertans pour deux flutes. Oeuv. 14. Paris, A. Cotelle.
University of Michigan

3 Duos concertans (sic ?) pour deux clarinettes. Paris, Imbault.


3 Sonates concertantes pour 2 hautbois composés… par Auguste Vern. Paris, Imbault.


6 Duos concertants pour deux flûtes, divisés en deux parties. Paris, Benoist Pollet.

Six grand duos concertans pour deux flûtes, etc. Liv. 2. Berlin.

3 Duos concertans pour deux flûtes. Paris, Imbault.

Trois grands duos concertans pour deux flûtes. Paris, Janet et Cotelle.
University of Michigan

Nocturne en harmonie… par Auguste Vern. Paris, Melle T. Demar.
= No. 11 from the list in the Obituary?

Nocturne en harmonie: for flute, 2 clarinets, 2 horns and 2 bassoons : with optional 2 oboes or clarinets, contra-bassoon, trumpet and trombone. Lancaster, Phylloscopus Publications.

Variations concertantes sur la cavatine (di tanti palpite) de Rossini, arrangées pour harpe et flûte. Paris, Demar.


[ii] The vox humana is described in some detail in Geoffrey Burgess, The Oboe, Yale University Press, 2004, p. 99. It was a “straight tenor in F in two parts (the centre joint and bell were unseparated”.

[iii] Demadières-Miron was the director of the Musée d’Orléans, and chevalier de la Légion-d’ Honneur. Died Feb. 4, 1852.

[iv] i.e., Johann Georg Wunderlich, 1775-1819, professor of flute at the Conservatory in Paris.

Published on with permission from Prof. Dr. Tom Moore

About Prof. Dr. Tom Moore

Tom Moore holds degrees in music from Harvard and Stanford and studied traverso with Sandra Miller. From 2004 to 2007, he was visiting professor of music at the University of Rio de Janeiro (UniRio), where he co-directed the early music ensemble, Camerata Quantz. He has recorded with Kim Reighley and Mélomanie for Lyrichord (USA) and with Le Triomphe de l’Amour for Lyrichord and A Casa Discos (Brazil). Mr. Moore writes about music for,, 21st Century Music,  Opera Today, Flute Talk, Flutist Quarterly, and other journals. He has also sung professionally with the Symphonic Chorus of Rio de Janeiro and Concert Royal and Pomerium Musices of New York. He is presently head of the Sound and Image Department of the Green Library of Florida International University, Miami, FL. 

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Flute Vox – CD Review

Artist/s:  Laura Chislett (flute); Stephanie McCallum (piano); Thomas Jones (violin)

Category:  Classical, New Music

Label:   ABC Classics

Reviewed by Karen Anne Lonsdale


Flute Vox is a compilation of concert works for flute, alto flute, bass flute and piccolo, featuring Laura Chislett, one of Australia’s foremost interpreters of contemporary flute music.  The Latin word ‘vox’ means ‘voice’ and Laura Chislett named the CD Flute Vox flute-vox“because the project ‘gives voice’ to the flute, showcasing its versatility and expressive potential” in addition to her interest in “the sounds created by simultaneous singing and playing on the flute”. The title also reflects Chislett’s acknowledgement of two works which are included on the CD:  Vox Box for amplified bass flute by Australian composer Mark Zadro, as well as Voice for solo flute by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu.   The range of repertoire on the two CDs spans several decades from Edgard Varèse’s Density 21.5 (1936; revised 1946) to Michael Smetanin’s Backbone: for solo flute and multi-tracked fixed media sound (2015).  

The CD set features flute pieces by numerous prominent Australian composers including Julian Yu, Michael Smetanin, Katia Tiutiunnik, Mark Zadro, Brett Dean, Rosalind Page, Elena Kats-Chernin.  The compilation also includes a solo piano work, Four Episodes for Piano (2010) by Gerald Glynn performed by the distinguished Australian pianist Stephanie McCallum.

Chislett demonstrates her excellent command of a range of extended flute techniques in Toru Takemitsu’s Voice for solo flute (1971), Mark Zadro’s Vox Box for amplified bass flute (2001), Rosalind Page’s Courbe dominante (2006) for flute with pre-recorded sound, and Brett Dean’s Demons for solo flute (2004).  The technical agility and bird-like characteristics of the flute, have inspired other works in this compilation, including English composer Edward Cowie in his A Charm of Australian Finches for flute and piano (1993), as well as Julian Yu’s Sonata for Flute and Piano (2004).

Contrasting the technical feats required in these works is the exquisite lyricism heard in the Persian Suite (2002) for flute and piano by composer Reza Vali.   The suite is the twelfth set of Persian folk songs written by Vali who was born in Persia (Iran), and is now based in the USA.

Chislett plays with warmth and expressivity in the hauntingly beautiful melodies in Blue Silence (2006) by Elena Kats-Chernin and The Quickening: A Tribute to Jonathon Kramer for flute and piano (2005) by Katia Tiutiunnik.  Chislett is joined by her husband, violinist Thomas Jones in a soulful performance of Kats-Chernin’s Wedding Suite (1996) for flute and violin, which was composed for the couple’s wedding day.

Flute enthusiasts are sure to enjoy this eclectic selection of concert pieces, as well as the superb playing by all of the artists on Flute Vox.

Karen Anne Lonsdale

7 May 2016


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Sally Walker – An Interview

Elena Kats-Chernin’s new flute concerto Night and Now is the result of a long friendship and collaboration with flautist Sally Walker. Sally will be premiering the concerto on Saturday 24 October with the Darwin Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Matthew Wood.

Angus McPherson spoke to Sally Walker. (Excerpts from Elena Kats-Chernin’s program note for Night and Now are in italics.)


When did you know Elena was writing you a concerto?

The idea of writing me a concerto stemmed naturally from our many other collaborations; it had been talked about for some years but crystallised once Elena was awarded the Australia Council Fellowship in late 2014, which also meant a confirmation of a timeline of events. She then began writing furiously and by January played me her idea for the first movement (on piano, from which she composes).

Photo: Steven Goodbee Publicity.

Sally & elena

How did the collaboration between you and Elena work?

Our collaboration process is very easy. It always begins with a lot of talking and a lot of laughing in a session at her place around the piano – trying things out. As we are both very itinerant, we are emailing mostly thereafter, with occasional phone calls. If we are in the same city at the same time, of course we try to meet, but the contact is very constant in the written form. Sometimes I will send her a sound file (like yesterday, so she could hear the recording of the first tutti rehearsal).

Sally often hears sketches of my work as I’m writing them and she has great insight into my processes. When Sally and I began to think about what a major work for flute and orchestra would sound like, we discussed all of these qualities and how to showcase the flute as a solo instrument and emphasise its unique sound and capabilities. Sally’s sound is full bodied. It isn’t a little flute which flies away – it has earth. That is Sally…how she is, very earthy and elf‐like at the same time. That’s what flute is, the way Sally plays it.

We began with talking about what the piece should be. I said that I would like a work of depth and seriousness, which has beautiful melodies and embodies her knowledge of unusual harmonies. I especially wanted some darkness (so many flute concertos have the ‘brilliante’ aspect of the flute, but I think our low register is very stirring). In 2006, Elena wrote her flute and piano version of Blue Silence for me and it became my favourite of all her works. She needed some persuading that the slowness of the music was convincing; she is more comfortable writing very busy music. When it was broadcast by the ABC on a show called For Matthew and Others, she received enormous praise for this contemplative work. I had wanted that work to be a starting point for the concerto. Consequently, the concerto starts on a low E, in a minor key and very slowly. “Night”.

The timbre and sonorities of the flute itself offer much variation to the composer. It can be brilliant, shrill and scurrying, or whispering and mellow. The flute can draw sharp or soft lines. It can be rich, or mystical, or virtuosic, penetrate a full sound or sigh into the texture.

I wanted her somehow to document her childhood in Russia, with all its extremes, its suffering and its wonder.

It is a Concerto in three movements and takes aspects of the Russian personality and character as its starting point, as well as aspects of the flute itself. It draws very much on my own experiences as a child of that world, both aurally and from day to day life. Until I was 17, that was everything that I knew. One of my overriding memories of childhood in Russia is of lining up for hours and hours for one loaf of bread or piece of cheese, and the perseverance and sometimes ultimate disappointment that had to be faced when food just ran out.


Being familiar with Elena and her music, did you have any preconceptions about the piece? Were there any surprises?

I was delighted to hear a reference to J.S. Bach in the fugue-ish second movement. I half-jokingly suggested a ‘Latigo’ (an Argentine Tango technique) in the second movement and then I saw she put it in the score! – both for violin (which is typical) and then for piccolo (not typical, but effective).


What has been the most challenging thing about preparing Night and Now?

That I premiere this in three days and we are still making changes. I love to play from memory, but I think that may be a little too risky!


How would you describe the overall sound of the work?

Colourful, from the foreboding to the sublime. It is a transformation, really, from the darkest of darks to exuberant triumph (with abundant percussion). A Lament, a Fugue and a Tarantella.

Sally also suggested to me that I might use stories from my early years in Russia, or from my own life as a template to the overall design of the composition. And so I did. The first movement is based on two imagined Russian fairy tales; one taking place deep in the woods – always a place of foreboding and unease (for this writer), but also promise and adventure and transformation. The other is in a silvery castle, impressively elaborate and bejewelled. Two very different “nights”.


What is your favourite moment in the music?

The first, certainly. For its intensity and colour. Low register flute, low strings and Tubular bells is an eerie, other-worldly sound.


Are there different challenges when preparing and performing a work written for you by a friend?

Somehow it feels like a higher responsibility, even though I have been integrally involved in the whole writing process. You want everybody to be happy with the final result. Luckily I love the piece – imagine where would it leave a friendship if someone writes you a concerto and you don’t like it!


How do you see this work fitting into the wider canon of flute concertos?

It is perhaps more focussed upon melody than virtuosity (although there are a couple of awkward acrobatic moments). We had specifically wanted a piece that many people could enjoy playing, so its level of technical difficulty is not as high as other concertos. Also, we discussed the idea of making the concerto for multiple flutes, but I thought that would limit how many people would play it and so it is for C flute only.

Although it is an ‘Australian Flute Concerto’, it is very much bound with Elena’s cultural background as a Russian Jew, so there are elements of Russian music certainly, hints of Klezmer and, of course, Bach.


Are there any plans for further tours?

It will be performed with the Zelman Symphony, conducted by Mark Shiell, in Melbourne on December fifth, with the Newcastle Youth Orchestra in September next year and the Queensland Youth Symphony the year after. Some overseas orchestras have approached us too; it would be really special to take this work to different countries.


UPDATE Monday 2 November 2015

ALL of the team at FTA extend our most heartfelt congratulations to both Elena and Sally and of course the Darwin Symphony Orchestra on an incredibly successful world premier of “Night and Now” which received a standing ovation!

Please find below some stunning photos of the World Premier courtesy of the Darwin Symphony Orchestra

image4 image3 image2 image1

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Media Release – ELENA KATS-CHERNIN’s Flute Concerto Night and Now

After a fortuitous conversation with flautist Sally Walker, a Coogee bank teller introduced her to his mum.

15 years later his mum has written a concerto for her talented and dear friend.

ELENA KATS-CHERNIN’s Flute Concerto Night and Now

WORLD PREMIERE Darwin Symphony, 24 October 2015

MELBOURNE PREMIERE Zelman Symphony, 5 December 2015

15 years ago a conversation with a bank teller in Coogee led flautist Sally Walker to a fortuitous and solid friendship with Elena Kats-Chernin, one of Australia’s most celebrated composers. She was the bank teller’s mum!

The latest chapter in their relationship is the premiere with the Darwin Symphony Orchestra of Night and Now, a flute concerto Elena has written specially for her. 

Attempting to resolve a problem with receiving her bank statements in Germany (where she was then resident), Sally visited branches in Bondi and Coogee over two days. Coincidentally, in each branch, she was served by the same ‘handsome young man’.

On the second day, they chatted and realized they’d both lived in Hannover. Sally explained that she was a musician, and studied and worked there.  

“My mum is a musician too, a composer,” said the bank teller. “She writes ‘acid-funk-new age’. Her name is Elena Kats-Chernin.”

Sally recalls: “This made me smile. She is incredible, but I’m not sure I’d call her work acid-funk-new age. I had heard “Clocks” and loved it, so was familiar with her captivating and imaginative musical language. I was promoting Australian Music in my chamber concerts in Germany and so was very keen to know if she had written anything for flute. I left a note with him for her asking this and my number. Meeting her son twice seemed serendipitous.”

She adds these co-incidences have become regular occurrences: “Last week when we met for dinner, we had exactly the same burgundy wooden necklace on – one neither of us wear often and neither of us knew the other one had. These slightly eerie things have repeatedly happened to us.”

Elena called Sally and the pair met up, clicking immediately. Despite living on separate continents a bond was formed, further cemented when Sally returned to Australia to live. It was the beginning of a long and strong relationship, connecting personally and professionally.

“What is really funny is that I normally don’t call people,” says Elena. “That’s not the way it usually works. I don’t mean this in an arrogant way, but more that I believe in chance. I like to leave things to chance. But the way I came to meet with Sally was just meant to be.”

Over the 15-year period, Elena and Sally have both enjoyed great successes and their respective careers have flourished. Sally has toured and recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, was Principal Flute of the Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss and performed as Guest Principal Flute with the City of Birmingham Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and NDR Radio Philharmonie Hannover. After playing full-time with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra from 2003-2005, she returned to Australia in 2006 and is currently the Lecturer in Flute at the University of Newcastle and touring with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Elena’s star continues to rise and The Sydney Morning Herald says that “her status as one of this country’s most prolific and consistently innovative composers remains unchallenged”. Her work has been heard in the most intimate settings, through to the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games. Her music for ballet, opera and the concert stage is performed all over the world.

So why the Darwin Symphony for the world premiere of Night and Now?

“I’d heard from a few sources about a superb new Chief Conductor at the Darwin Symphony,” says Sally. “Subsequently I was working with the group Halcyon on some really challenging contemporary music and was really impressed by the conductor, Matthew Wood. I heard him say something about travelling back to Darwin and I thought to myself, ‘it’s you!’”

During the project, Sally told him about the new work Elena was working on for her: “Matthew told me that the Darwin Symphony would love to premiere the work, and Elena and I thought it was an ideal fit. They present a number of works each year by Australian composers and we loved that commitment, especially from a community orchestra.”

“And the second performance will be in December in Melbourne by Zelman Symphony, with another inspiring conductor I met through Halcyon, Mark Shiell,” says Sally.

And what can we expect from the Night and Now concerto?

Click here to



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Dr Christine Potter – An Interview

– Email Interview with Peter Sheridan –



Many years ago I decided to work on the JS Bach Allemande from the Solo Sonata on alto because it would be harder than on c flute. Since my school had only a straight tube alto and I have short arms, I never thought of pursuing the alto until I went to my first NFA convention and saw there were curved head altos. I feel in love with the sound. Once I was able to buy one, I then had to find out what I could play on my new alto. There was no available compilation of repertoire, so I spent hours in the back room of a music store making a list of pieces from publishers catalogues.



I wanted more fun pieces to play and conduct!



My first book was a scale book that can be played as a duet, trio or quartet. I wrote this when I scheduled myself to perform a duet with Carol Wincenc at a Festival I was organizing. I needed to find time to practice and scales were something I played with my students, so I turned scales into duets. That book was hugely successful at the NFA convention, and from there, I wrote books that filled other needs. I wanted to play Halloween Duets with my students at a Halloween studio recital, and nothing existed, so I arranged some. There needed to be a book teaching people about vibrato, so I spent three years writing one. It has definitely been a labor of love, I figure I have earned about .05 an hour with all the time I spend.


My need to make lists of







I attribute to a personality disorder!




The NFA Board approached me with the idea, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it first. I made it my mission to spread the word about low flutes, to enrich the available repertoire and show that low flutes were not just for simple repetitive parts in a flute choir, but were capable of being expressive solo instruments. Many more events for low flutes are now programmed at conventions, and the music written for these events is blossoming, spreading out into the world and popping up in many wonderful places.



My father died several years ago and it made me think about what I wanted to accomplish while I still could. The first Retreat in 2004 was actually in a masterclass format that did not work very well since most of the people who came were not solo performers. Now I focus on chamber music that makes everyone happy, and I include two workshops that change topics from year to year. This year I have two Retreats, one in Colorado and one in Asheville, NC.



Matthias Ziegler is terrific! Then there is this guy in Australia . . . . . .




Katherine Hoover’s Two for Two, Daniel Rhone’s Bethlehem Pastorale, Matthias Ziegler’s Low Flutes at High Tides, Mike Mower’s Obstinato and Scareso.




I would like to see alto flute taught at the college level equal to the piccolo and included in undergraduate and graduate recitals. I would like to see an international competition for alto flute and bass flute soloist. We have the repertoire to make this a reality, but would need to find some funding sources for the prizes, plus a suitable venue. I hope it will become commonplace for world renowned artists to include alto or bass pieces in their programs.


How does being Flute Choir Coordinator and Low Flutes Choir Conductor at the Galway Festival fit into your dream of world domination?


When I was asked to perform Matthias Ziegler’s Low Flutes at High Tides at the Galway Festival in 2013, I was thrilled. I was given top students to work with and the Galway’s were so pleased, they created a job for me and asked me to return the following summer. I will be returning again this summer with permission to program even more low flutes pieces. By including these works in their Festival, the Galway’s are recognizing the value and quality of the repertoire that is being created for low flutes and sending that message to the rest of the flute world.








About Dr Christine Potter

Dr. Christine Potter has performed in London, Paris, Mexico City, Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Washington D.C., Phoenix, Dallas, Boston, and Atlanta. She is an internationally recognized alto and bass flute virtuoso and has performed at many conventions of the National Flute Association (NFA) as well as British Flute Society conventions (BFS). Chris spent five years as Chair of the National Flute Association’s Low Flutes Committee and developed the low flutes portion of the annual NFA conventions with numerous performances, world premiers and workshops. She directs a low flutes choir at the James Galway Festival in Weggis, Switzerland, where she is also the flute choir coordinator.

Her CD, Flute Menagerie, features solo works for alto and bass. Chris has commissioned and premiered many works for alto and bass, including Low Flutes at High Tides for low flutes choir and Voices for solo bass by Matthias Ziegler, Voices From the Deep and The Alchemy of Earth by Alexandra Molnar-Sujahda, Deep Space Heat Wave by Jonathan Cohen, Stone Suite by Sonny Burnette, Baikal Journey by Catherine McMichael, Obstinato and Scareso by Mike Mower, Two for Two by Katherine Hoover, and Ani Ma’Amin by Paul Schoenfeld.

Chris has appeared on the cover of Flute Talk magazine in with the 10-foot high sculpture of a bass flute in her front yard. She is a frequent contributor to Flute Talk as well as The Flute View and The Quarterly, the magazine of the National Flute Association.

Chris has been organizing and teaching Alto and Bass Flute Retreats since 2004. In 2015 there will be two Retreats, one in Asheville North Carolina, one in Boulder, Colorado. Both will be in June. Chamber music is the focus of each Retreat. Go to the “Retreat/Events” tab for information on the Retreats.

She has written and arranged fifteen books. Her latest contribution is Tres Ratoncitos Ciegos (Three Blind Mice) for flute choir premiered at the 2014 convention. Her books Halloween Duets and The Alto and Bass Flute Resource Book were both winners in the National Flute Association’s Newly Published Music Competition. Her best selling book is The Vibrato Workbook published by Falls House Press. All her books are available on this website.

Chris is known for her clever and innovative performances. She has organized concerts in planetariums, recorded a soundtrack in sea caves from a kayak for an improvised bass flute solo titled SplishSplash!, includes a movie in her performance of Lunar Mural 1, and organizes audience participation, including sing-a-longs.


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Alice Bennett – An Interview


Melbourne-based flutist and sound artist Alice Bennett possesses a keen interest in contemporary Australian music and the low flutes, and has most recently developed a penchant for exploratory improvisation. After completing a Bachelor of Music with Honours at Monash University, Alice travelled to Austria for the Impuls 8th International Ensemble and Composers Academy for Contemporary Music 2013 where she studied contemporary flute techniques with Eva Furrer, and improvisation with Manon-Liu Winter and Frank Gratkowski.

Alice has had the privilege of premiering works by Houston Dunleavy, Peter Senchuk, Vaughan McAlley, Mitchell Mollison, and Katia Tiutiunnik, and has received funding from the Australia Council for the Arts. She is an active committee member of the Victorian Flute Guild, and performs with contemporary ensemble Faux Foe. Alice currently spends most of her time working on her Project 365, a challenge to complete and publicly release 365 original works during one year, and also enjoys cooking, drinking nice wine and hanging out with her pet rabbits.

Alice is a co-founder of Tilde New Music and Sound Art – a multi-platform project which aims to promote Australian art music, including but not limited to: improvisation, sound art, and works by people who aren’t dead yet. The first stage of this project was a mini festival held on Sunday 26th January at Testing Grounds, Melbourne. The festival featured performances of some of Melbourne’s most innovative sound artists and performers, and hosted the launch of the Tilde Roving Sound Art Gallery.



One morning in my first year of university I stumbled out of my dorm room having enjoyed way too much vino the night before, and seedily made my way to the weekly flute workshop. I waited with my classmates for a guest lecturer to appear. We had no idea who this person was or what they did. Little did I know that they were one of only a handful of low flutes specialists in the world, nor how lucky we all were to get our hands on a contrabass flute. One note and I was hooked.



Throughout 2014 I took part in the WeeklyBeats Challenge (, where participants compose/record one piece of music per week for the duration of a year. I found the process so useful and inspiring that I attempted to do the same every day. Having a constant deadline and outcome (publicly releasing each track) gave me the motivation to experiment and work on my skills every day, and that includes improvising, using Ableton Live and other software, recording techniques and website management as well as playing. WeeklyBeats also gives you access to a community of peers who give weekly feedback and support.



The bass flute adds two qualities to an ensemble: timbre and low-end support. The timbre of the bass is my personal favourite of the flute family; it can growl and grunt in the bottom register and is sweetest in the third. Its sound produces many more partials due to its wider bore, and it is almost as agile as a regular flute. It performs an invaluable role in the flute ensemble by filling out the lower end and supporting the lowest flutes that are not always loud or plentiful enough to counter-balance the top end.



The festival was inspired by the European new music festivals such as Darmstadt in Germany and Impuls in Austria. Tilde aims to promote contemporary art music including improvisation, sound art and works by living composers. It also provides a rare opportunity for composers, performers and sound artists to get together and interact with a growing network of new music enthusiasts and to showcase their work in a relaxing outdoor environment. The 2015 Tilde New Music Festival will be held on Saturday 24th January at Testing Grounds in Southbank, Melbourne.



Three of my favourites:

Matthias Zeigler, Switzerland – Matthias’ album Uakti demonstrates his experimentation in amplifying the microsounds produced by the contrabass flute, creating interesting and engaging electroacoustic works.

Eva Furrer, Austria – Eva is a fantastic flutist and performer who plays some of the most challenging works for bass flute in the contemporary European style.

Peter Sheridan, Australia – Peter has the deepest, most resonant sound of any low flutes player I have heard. He makes the instruments sing, defying any restraint that the sometimes-clumsy instruments have.



I don’t have a single favourite, but the following are great works for low flutes:

Salvatore Sciarrino – Opera for Solo Flute/Bass Flute

Beat Furrer – Ira-Arca for bass flute and double bass

Vincent Giles – Differing Dialogues for bass flute and pre-recorded low flutes



With technical innovations making low flutes cheaper and more accessible to performers and students, these instruments are becoming more and more popular with both performers and composers. I see a lot of good music making in the future!

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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 –

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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

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Angus McPherson

Flute Tutor Australia is excited to feature the talented young Australian flutist, Angus McPherson.

Angus studied with Alexa Still at the Sydney Conservatorium and has made a name for himself as an avid performer of contemporary flute music. He is well known for performing pieces that require unusual or extended techniques and even mechanical additions to the flute, such as Robert Dick’s Glissando Headjoint. Angus has also presented classes and written articles on extended techniques and contemporary flute playing and has been active on the committee of the Flute Society of New South Wales.

Flute Tutor Australia caught up with Angus earlier in the year.

FTA: What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?

AM: Over the last couple of years I have had the privilege of performing for both Robert Dick and Gergely Ittzés at international masterclasses. Working with such innovative composers on their own pieces was a fantastic experience. I attended Robert’s masterclass in Seattle in 2010 and I was fortunate enough to meet up with him again the next year, in New York, to interview him as part of the research for my Master’s thesis on the Glissando Headjoint.

Last year I was also invited to perform with the International Opera Theater in Italy. I played flute, piccolo and alto flute in the pit for the European premiere of their production, Decameron. The opera was composed collaboratively by seven different composers; each setting to music a different story from Giovanni Boccaccio’s Il Decamerone. We did a series of performances in Citta della Pieve and Citta di Saluzzo.

FTA: What drew you to contemporary music?

AM: I was introduced to the music of Robert Dick, Gergely Ittzés and Ian Clarke by my teacher, Alexa, and I quickly became fascinated by the new sounds and techniques. I feel that there are things that can be said musically, using extended techniques, that can’t be expressed using only the ‘traditional’ flute sound. I think it is important, perhaps even vital, that we as musicians and flutists explore these things and contribute actively to the advancement of our art. Loftier musical aspirations aside, it’s also fun!

FTA: What are your plans for the future?

AM: I have some exciting performance opportunities coming up in 2013, which will soon be announced on my website, and I have also arranged to work with several Australian composers on developing some new repertoire for the Glissando Headjoint.


See Angus performing Ian Clarke’s The Great Train Race on YouTube

For more about Angus, visit

Follow him on twitter @GusMcPherson Or “Like” on facebook


Catch Angus in Recital in Sydney on Australia Day 2013 details below and on Angus’ website (via link above)

St Stephen’s Australia Day Recital 2013 – Angus McPherson (flute)

A recital of solo flute works: a selection of modern pieces that have been newly added to the AMEB flute syllabus.

  • Gergely Ittzés – Mr Dick is Thinking in Terms of a Blues-Pattern
  • Astor Piazzolla – Tango Etude No. 3
  • Christine Draeger – Melusina’s Dream
  • Robert Dick – Fish are Jumping
  • Ian Clarke – The Great Train Race
St Stephen’s Uniting Church, 197 Macquarie St, Sydney, NSW, Australia

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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
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5 Minutes with Shaun Barlow in the BiG APPLE

Shaun Barlow – Interview

by Jennifer Bradstreet

(Originally published by The NSW Flute Society Blog in October 2012 and published on Flute Tutor Australia at the request of the NSW Flute Society in February 2014)


Right now, where do you call home?

New York City!!! Increasingly, I’m finding a home in the Big Apple. I also travelled through the US and UK during my Masters research. Getting to know the people and the music in cities like New York and London has just been phenomenal!


How has the move from Australia to the US helped your career so far?

Living in New York City is just a whirlwind! I’ve seen and met so many great and iconic musicians here and I seem to have my mind blown by one concert or another at least twice a month.

While moving here has been fabulous, it certainly takes time to get to meet everyone in the music scene, plan gigs and learn where everyone hangs out, but it’s a really exciting process!

The biggest treat has been meeting and playing with other young musicians. There are a lot of people here with a thirst and an energy to do amazing and innovative things, and I love working to be a part of that.


Tell us what you’re working on! Take us through a typical week in NYC …

*Practicing as much as possible

*Seeing some phenomenal concerts of new music, jazz combos and classical rep – anything that’s cheap and amazing!

*Working on my jazz playing (learning to really internalise chord progressions) and hanging out at the weekly midnight jam sessions at this great little bar on the Lower East Side where everyone squeezes in really tight and plays 20s and 30s swing tunes.

*Getting stuck into playing in small ensembles, performing new pieces by composer friends. It’s so thrilling to get stuck into learning something new, working together with the composer and the other performers, really trying to get to the heart of a piece in a short period of time. The process of negotiating new musical challenges with other musicians is one of my greatest pleasures.

*For the concerts I’m playing during the next few months, there’s a lot of work planning stuff like fundraising, promotion, finding more venues, players and composers.

*Teaching a few days a week at an early childhood school which involves a heap of singing and dancing and making art projects with little kids. It’s the first time I’ve worked with under 5 year olds before and it’s just so exciting to see how they learn!


What sparked this contemporary focus and what do you love most about this music?

I love so much about the sounds and the scene and the history of 20th and 21st century music. There’s so much engagement right now between popular music styles and the classical art music tradition. The lines between jazz, blues, classical music and dance music are so blurry now that it’s just so much fun playing mix and match. Somehow, I’ve always been drawn towards weird stuff. I remember the first time I heard Gavin Bryar’s “Jesus Blood” in my first few weeks as an undergrad at the Sydney Con. I just had this light bulb moment – “You mean doing weird stuff on a recording is a thing that people do?!”

As I progressed through the undergrad program, I was always drawn into the “serious” discussions that the composition students were having about spectralism, serialism, neo-classicism and other “isms”. I really wasn’t sure what it all meant at the time, but I became more and more excited as I slowly began to explore the music behind all these words.

The biggest spark though, has definitely been Alexa Still’s encouragement and amazing knowledge of everything on the spectrum of flute-playing. It is thanks to her that I decided to come to New York for the 2009 NFA Convention and first met Robert Dick, Greg Pattillo, Ian Clarke and countless other phenomenal people.


What do you want people to take from your performances and workshops?

That it’s fun to play in the metaphorical mud! I really just want everyone to see that the flute is one of the most versatile instruments ever, and that it’s sounds and roles are so diverse – of course it’s a great melodic instrument but it’s also a rhythm instrument and a polyphonic instrument, too! I also want people to see that it’s really easy to get started with improvisation, beatboxing, extended techniques and extended notation.


You’re obviously doing well since finding your niche. What are your long-term plans?

It’s been almost a year since I finished my Masters at the Sydney Con, and living life outside of music school is really, really different! All of a sudden you’ve got so many choices to make and it definitely has its ups and downs – but the freedom to take a different view of things is great

I’d like to further develop my skills that weren’t necessarily the focus of my classical training. I’m also learning to get up and running with some looping and other electronic bits and pieces – the sort of the thing where I can manipulate the sound of the flute through the computer to build textures and grooves on stage.

I’d like to further develop the musical relationships that I’ve begun in the US, fostering long-term collaborations. Travelling has been really fantastic for seeing a lot of different things, but the time has come to try and stay in the one place for a little while…


There has been a lot of talk about the “relevance” of the classical music genre. Francis Merson of Limelight magazine recently commented that it is simply “to be enjoyed” (whilst drawing a parallel to the “relevance” of a delicious macaroon)! As a classically trained, not-so-classical musician, what do you think?

It’s a tough subject to get into in a short answer. I’ll comment on the “classical” music that is being written now, (which is a difficult thing to define with a broad brush stroke. There are just so many diverse things being written and the blurring of lines between classical music and popular music has almost made this sort of debate a moot point.

Some of the music being written today is really accessible to a popular audience (and/or able to be enjoyed as a delicious macaroon by a great number of people). Some of it is interesting to a smaller audience.  And, some of it is only interesting to the people writing and playing it.

I don’t think this is a problem at all.

Should we really expect everyone’s musical expression to be a successful commercial venture? Perhaps the aim for everyone (especially those holding the purse strings) should be to foster their own personal musical practice. If everyone played or sang or wrote a little bit of music once a week, just for the pleasure of doing it, unashamedly, then it might become apparent that each piece of music has a different purpose (and relevance) to different people at different times. I often come back to something that Richard Gill said – “Don’t tell me whether you like it or not. Tell me what you hear.”

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