Friday, September 04, 2015

Summer Insomnia for Flute Choir

This summer has certainly been uncharacteristic for this freelance musician. Typically, I'm working on one commission and more than likely trying to make Christmas arrangements (my biggest seller) to make up for the lack of income from vacationing students and the drought of gigs. This summer, however, I have found some flute love.

At the beginning of the year I always make a list of pieces I would like to compose in case I find myself without a project to work on during the year. Most of the time the pieces I plan to work on vary in instrumentation and form to help me keep things different and fresh. This year has been the year of the flute, however, and it doesn't look like I am going to write a piece where the flute isn't the featured instrument.
Flute Choir of Atlanta premieres Summer Insomnia

I suppose it makes sense that my main instrument is the same instrument of my commissioners. It certainly is the instrument I am most comfortable composing for, obviously. I usually meet other flutists at flute fairs and the National Flute Association Convention who have heard a piece of mine there and would like me to compose a certain piece for them.

I just had a piece for flute choir premiered at the 2015 National Flute Association Convention in Washington, DC. this month. I was commissioned by Flute Choir of Atlanta, under the direction of dear friend Kathy Farmer, to compose a piece for flute choir with the hopes to perform it at the National Flute Convention. The program was called "American Seasons" and that I could pick whichever season I would like. I had been experimenting with cricket and insect sounds using the flute with other pieces, but this time I could experiment with the sounds on a bigger scale in a flute choir. So I picked summer, the height of bug season.

I had found memories as a child spending the night at my great aunt and uncle's farm in Dearborn, Missouri. The days were warm and the nights were cool. The windows were always open at night. I remember on particular night staying at the farm for the first time without my parents or sisters. Falling asleep listening to the crickets, but then a my imagination ran away with with me. Needless to say it resulted in me waking up my great aunt and uncle and having them drive me an hour back to St. Joseph, Missouri where my parents and sisters were staying with my grandmother. So this is for my poor great aunt and uncle who gave me wonderful memories and never complained about driving me back to my parents in the dead of night on that long gravel road.

That night was the inspiration for the piece Summer Insomnia. Some of the extended techniques were new for many of the members of the flute choir, but what troopers they were about learning! I not only had the privilege of composing for the choir, but I got to play with them as well. It was a wonderful experience and and experience I'll never forget. They even made me a special bug crown!

So the question now, as always, what's next? I just finished another flute choir commission for the Atlanta Flute Club. It's a piece for the 10th Annual Flute Choir Extravaganza event on November 15. So far there are 5 flute choirs signed up to join the premiere performance, with a possibility of a couple more. That will be an amazing experience to stand in front of all those flute choirs and conduct a premiere of my own piece.

I will premiere another work of mine for flute and piano, Three-Nine Line, with pianist Ipek Brooks on October 3. Now, I am just about to start putting the first notes on the page for a flute and trombone duet commissioned by Dr. Shelley Martinson. I also have a couple of commissions out to be signed and negotiated...yes they are for flute. Of course I have my usual load of students, Terminus Ensemble performances, and Perimeter Flutes has a plethora of performances coming up as well. Needless to say, I am going to take advantage of the holiday weekend to get the house in order so that our house isn't condemned by Christmas....

Flute New Music Consortium also interviewed me. Watch me try to speak English, shockingly my first and only language, but I'm not sure you can tell:

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