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

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Dr Christine Potter – An Interview

– Email Interview with Peter Sheridan –

Christine_potter

HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH THE LOW FLUTES?

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.

 

AS AN ACTIVE COMMISSIONER OF LOW FLUTES MUSIC, WHAT MOTIVATED THIS DESIRE?

I wanted more fun pieces to play and conduct!

 

YOU HAVE BEEN AN ACTIVE EDUCATOR OVER THE YEARS, WITH A SUBSTANTIAL BODY OF PUBLISHED PEDAGOGICAL BOOKS, REPERTOIRE LISTS AND ARTICLES.  WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THIS MEDIUM?

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

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H

I

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I attribute to a personality disorder!

 

YOU WERE INSTRUMENTAL IN STARTING THE INNOVATIVE NATIONAL FLUTE ASSOCIATION ‘LOW FLUTES’ COMMITTEE SOME FIVE YEARS AGO NOW.

PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THIS EXCITING OPPORTUNITY.

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.

 

WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR ANNUAL ALTO/BASS FLUTE RETREAT IN THE USA?

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.

 

WHOM ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE LOW FLUTE ARTISTS

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

 

 

COULD YOU TELL US YOUR FAVOURITE WORK FOR THE LOW FLUTES?

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.

 

WHAT DO YOU SEE FOR THE FUTURE OF LOW FLUTES?

 

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.

 

Alice Bennett – An Interview

Alice_Bennett

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. www.tilde.net.au

 

HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH THE LOW FLUTES?

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.

 

AS AN ACTIVE PERFORMER AND IMPROVISOR, YOU HAVE JUST COMPLETED A MOST INTERESTING PROJECT TITLED 365.  TELL US ABOUT YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Throughout 2014 I took part in the WeeklyBeats Challenge (www.weeklybeats.com), 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.

 

YOU HAVE PERFORMED ON THE BASS FLUTE IN SEVERAL FLUTE CHAMBER ENSEMBLES? WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE, IN YOUR OPINION, OF THIS INSTRUMENTS SOUND WITHIN THE ENSEMBLE.

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.

 

WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION IN STARTING YOUR ANNUAL ‘TILDE NEW MUSIC FESTIVAL’ IN MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA? 

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. www.tilde.net.au

 

WHOM ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE LOW FLUTE ARTISTS

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.

 

COULD YOU TELL US YOUR FAVOURITE WORK FOR THE LOW FLUTES?

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

 

WHAT DO YOU SEE (AND HEAR) FOR THE FUTURE OF 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!

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

HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH THE LOW FLUTES?

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.

 

HOW MANY COMPOSITIONS HAVE YOU COMMISSIONED FOR THESE UNIQUE INSTRUMENTS?

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.

 

AS AN ACTIVE COMMISSIONER OF LOW FLUTES MUSIC, WHAT MOTIVATED THIS JOURNEY?

​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.​

 

YOUR WORK WITH ELECTRONICS HAS BEEN SUBSTANTIAL OVER THE YEARS. WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THIS MEDIUM?

​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.

 

YOU ARE A CHAMPION ‘QUARTER-TONE’ PLAYER AS YOU WERE ONE OF THE PIONEERS OF THE EARLY ALTO FLUTE INSTRUMENT. YOUR GRADUATE WORK IS BASED ON THIS TOPIC. WHAT ARTIST OR WORK INSPIRED THIS EXPLORATION.

​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 – www.altoflute.co.uk and www.bassflute.co.uk 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.

 

WHOM ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE LOW FLUTE ARTISTS?

​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!​

 

COULD YOU TELL US YOUR FAVOURITE WORK FOR THE LOW FLUTES?

​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!!​

 

WHAT DO YOU SEE (AND HEAR) FOR THE FUTURE OF LOW FLUTES?

​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 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi5uf9CVQcg

Multitracked arrangement of Lotti – https://soundcloud.com/rarescale/lotti-arr-carla-rees-crucifixus-in-8-parts

And a bit of Bach – https://soundcloud.com/rarescale/js-bach-sarabande-from-cello

TRITONE BRASS & WOODWIND – A Short History

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE WORKSHOP IN CANBERRA

AT TRITONE BRASS & WOODWIND 

AND THE OWNER DIRK ZEYLMANS VAN EMMICHIOVEN.

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.

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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 tritone.net.au

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

 

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 www.angusmcpherson.com

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

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)

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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

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

Introducing Brijette Tubb

This month Flute Tutor Australia is delighted to feature a wonderful young up and coming Australian Flute player, Brijette Tubb.

Brijette completed her Bachelor of Music (with Distinction) at the University of Southern Queensland, and Bachelor of Music (Honours) in Advanced Flute Performance at the Queensland Conservatorium studying under Australian flautist Karen Lonsdale.   Brijette also holds both an AMusA and LMusA (awarded with Distinction) from the Australian Music Examinations Board [AMEB] and is currently in her second and final year in a Master of Music at the Queensland Conservatorium, studying under both Karen Lonsdale and Gerhard Mallon. In addition to her studies, Brijette is a part-time instrumental teacher (mainly flute) at Nudgee Junior College.

Flute Tutor Australia asked Brijette to share with us a little about her musical journey thus far and what she would like to achieve next….

“I have been really lucky to have had the benefit of a great start to my orchestral career, having performed as principal flute in Queensland’s 2nd Youth Orchestra for 2010 and 2011, as well as in the Queensland Conservatorium Symphony and Chamber Orchestras.  In 2011, I attended the Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp and performed as Principal and 2nd Flute in the Alexander Orchestra, as well as being selected for an internship with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.  My main focus has been towards a solo career, and I have been awarded places in open sections in local eisteddfods (including first place in the Brisbane Eisteddfod Open Instrumental Soloist in 2011).  Also in 2011, I attended the Michael Cox Masterclass series in Adelaide as a performer, won the state-wide James Carson Memorial Flute Prize and was a semi-finalist in the Australian Flute Festival Open Flute Competition.  Most recently, on 12 May this year I performed as soloist in the Gordon Jacob ‘Concerto for Flute and Strings’ with the Queensland Conservatorium Chamber Orchestra, and in June, I successfully auditioned for and will be attending one of the few available private lessons with celebrated international flautist Denis Bouriakov in Sydney.

My dream for the future is to continue this combination of everything I love – teaching and hopefully inspiring others, performing as a soloist and as a member of an orchestra, continuing to develop my own skills and being inspired by other remarkable performers and teachers.  I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life; I feel very fortunate to have already had some wonderful opportunities, and wonderful teachers that have helped guide and shape my playing!”  Brijette

 

We strongly encourage you to take some time to listen to Brijette and to connect with her Youtube channel via the links below.  No doubt we will all be hearing much more of Brijette in years to come.

Hue Fantasie (performed by Brijette Tubb)

Brijette’s Youtube Channel Link

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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

MATTHEW HINDSON – An Interview

 Matthew Hindson: Flute Concerto to Premiere 4th May

MATTHEW HINDSON

On his flute concerto House Music in the lead up to its Australian premiere on 4th May in Sydney…

by Jennifer Bradstreet

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

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It’s been almost six years since the world premiere at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, with American flautist Marina Piccinini and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. What convinced you these performers were right for the work? Did they help you in the writing process?

Any composer would love to write music for the LPO – they are a truly outstanding orchestra.  So when the opportunity arose, and Marina Piccinini was the soloist – I definitely could not say no.

Marina did help in the writing process.  I was aware of the strength of her playing as well as her phenomenal technique.  It certainly helped writing for such a fine player.

 

Is the title House Music a reference to electronic dance music? You’ve written for the Sydney Dance Company; and your chamber and orchestral works are known to feature popular influence, huge dynamic range and driving rhythms. With the performance of this flute concerto, what kind of journey do you intend for the audience?

Actually, the title is a bit of a play on words – each of the movements relates to part of a house.  The popular music influence is not always obvious in this piece.  I tried to write music that evoked a sense of fun and also some familiar things – just like being at home.

The outer movements are intended to be pretty exciting – people should be able to recognize them as being in my ‘style’ if they have heard some of my music previously.

 

In what ways do you find the instrument most communicative? Which of these qualities did you incorporate into the piece and how?

My background is as a string player rather than a wind player, and this was my first real opportunity in writing an extended work for flute.  It was an altogether enjoyable experience.  Marina told me that in the long version of the concerto, which is about 30 minutes, it is a bit of a stamina exercise in some ways.

I would like to think that I’ve tried to work with the strengths of the instrument in terms of its technical feats as well as its sheer beauty at times as well.

 

Who will perform at the Australian premiere on 4th May? Is there any reason for waiting almost six years since the world premiere in London?

Alexa Still will be performing the solo part on this occasion.  She is certainly an amazing flautist.  Her performance of Corigliano’s Pied Piper Fantasy a couple of years ago was off the charts – quite extraordinary.

The reason for the delay in the piece being re-performed is because due to UK union regulations, there was no recording made of the premiere performance.  It is very difficult to have a piece programmed without a recording.

 

What’s happening next – what are you working on at the moment?

Actually one of my next pieces will be a flute and guitar duo.  That will be an interesting challenge and I am looking forward to revisiting writing for the flute in a soloistic capacity once again.

 

WHEN Friday 4 May 2012, 6pm

WHERE Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

COST Adult $30; Concession $25; Friends $15; Student $10

BOOKINGS via City Recital Hall, Angel Place

www.cityrecitalhall.com.au or 1300 797 118

 

Find out more about Matthew Hindson at www.hindson.com.au

 

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