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The Development of Flute Clubs in America, Part 2

Kathy Melago | December 2012

    The first part of this article looked at the early history of the flute club movement in the United States and the development of one early group, the Pittsburgh Flute Club. The Atlanta, Chicago, Portland, San Diego, and Texas flute clubs are other flourishing organizations that represent varied geographic regions.

The Atlanta Flute Club
    Warren Little, former principal flutist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra started the first Atlanta Flute Club in 1976. The first iteration of the Atlanta Flute Club lasted only until 1978, but during that time guest artists from the New York Philha-rmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra came to Atlanta. Concerts were given by local members and Julius Baker came down to give a masterclass.
    Approximately twenty years later, Amy Porter, who at that time was assistant principal flute with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Program Chair for the 1999 NFA Convention in Atlanta, reactivated flute club with several founding members in preparation for hosting the convention. The club has remained active since 1998, organizing programs for their members, who include amateurs, professionals, and students of all ages.
    The first Atlanta Flute Fair was held on March 28, 1998, at Kennesaw State University, and officers were elected at the flute fair. The Flute Fair featured a masterclass with Amy Porter, a flute choir reading session conducted by Kathy Farmer, and exhibits. The fair concluded with a gala recital given by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Flutists. Each ASO flutist played a solo piece and the grand finale was the entire section playing two quartets.
    Beginning with the second flute fair, student members of the club submitted recordings to be accepted into two Honors Flute Choirs and performed an afternoon concert at the fair. In 2001, a Young Artist Competition was added. In addition to the annual flute fair, the Atlanta Flute Club has sponsored events including an All-State Workshop and Reading Session, members’ recitals, and a Pedagogy Round-Table Discussion Group.
    The Atlanta Flute Club’s website contains information about membership, upcoming activities, newsletters, and other resources. The newsletters are archived on the website back to 2004, providing historical background for the club and are rich with photos from events.

The Chicago Flute Club
    Interestingly, before the Chicago Flute Club was founded, a different and unrelated Chicago Flute Society was in existence in Chicago. The Chicago Flute Society was essentially an amateur flute choir that enjoyed a successful and long existence before disbanding. In 1988, however, several flutists were working together in the pit orchestra for The Nutcracker at Chicago’s Arie Crown Theater and talked about creating a place to discuss the flute and flute pedagogy outside of work. Sarah Cifani was the club’s first president.
    The Chicago Flute Club has a stated mission as “a community of flutists in the greater Chicago area that fosters the highest artistic potential of all its members through teaching, listening, and performing.” Since its beginning, the Chicago Flute Club has brought many flute-related events of interest to its membership and the general public. The first event of club was a recital and lecture by Walfrid Kujala on October 1, 1989, and the club has been busy ever since.
    Masterclasses and recitals with internationally recognized artists are part of the club’s typical programming. The club hosts annual competitions with monetary awards for students and adults and member showcases. From 1998 to 2007, the club hosted annual flute fairs that were one-day events. Beginning with the 2007 fair, the event was changed to a biennial two-day festival, with a Friday evening awards banquet. They also have workshops and demonstrations, including Teachers’ Exchanges.
    The club has commissioned new works, including Martin Amlin’s Sonata No. 2 for Flute and Piano in 2004 and Lita Grier’s Echoes Over Time for flute quartet in 2009. They are currently planning two commissions, one for flute and piano and one for flute choir, for their twenty-fifth anniversary.
    The 2012-2013 season of the Chicago Flute Club is already full of exciting events and more are likely to be added. Member Showcases will be held on January 27 and May 19, and both include a flute choir reading by the attendees. The finals for the Walfrid Kujala International Piccolo Artist Competition will be held on March 14, and a World Concert of flute and guitar music will be presented on April 14 by the Caliendo Duo, sponsored in part by Muramatsu America. To stay informed on events with the Chicago Flute Club, visit and find them on Facebook.

Greater Portland Flute Society
    The Greater Portland Flute Society was founded in 1979 and has remained active ever since. They are a non-profit organization with a stated mission “to provide a time and place for flutists to meet, exchange ideas, gain performance experience, play in ensembles and generally promote and enhance flute playing in the Greater Portland Area.” Led by a 30-member volunteer board of directors, the society hosts  acclaimed artists for recitals and masterclasses, maintains a music library with free use for their members, publishes a newsletter four to six times per year, hosts an annual flute fair, and supports aspiring flutists through scholarship programs, flute choirs, instrument loan programs, and volunteering in the schools.
    The Greater Portland Flute Society serves its flute community in several unusual ways. To provide flutists an opportunity to play the larger flutes, it owns a bass and an alto flute that are available for loan to members for a small daily charge. Each April the society hosts a Flute Fair that attracts up to 400 flutists from the region. Participants attend sessions, masterclasses, and flute choir reading sessions. During the 2011 Flute Fair, Alicia DiDonato Paulsen, assistant principal flute with the Oregon Symphony, organized a performance of Charles Koechlin’s Chants de Nectaire with professional flutists from the Portland area. Finally, the information-packed Greater Portland Flute Society website,, features a calendar, flute teacher list, flutes for sale, lending library, list of recommended accompanists, recent newsletters, links to pictures of events, recommended flute-related links, membership information, and information on upcoming events. 

The San Diego Flute Guild
    Like with the Atlanta Flute Club, the San Diego Flute Guild was created to host a NFA convention. With just six members in 1987, the San Diego Flute Guild hosted the 1988 NFA convention. It has grown since then to include over 300 students, adults, and professional flutists. Led by a board of directors of approximately fifteen people, it is a volunteer organization dedicated to supporting and encouraging the growth and development of flutists of all ages and levels of ability. The Guild provide opportunities for education, performance, social interaction, and the advancement of pedagogy to their membership and to the San Diego flute and music community at large. One of its missions is to increase outreach to coordinate with other music clubs and associations in the United States and abroad.
    It hosts many events and activities throughout the year, but the largest is the Spring Flute Festival. The festival includes grade-level festival competitions, Young Artist competitions, The Artist Gold competition (open to all ages), as well as a guest artist who adjudicates the Artist Gold Competition and offers a masterclass and a concert performance.
    A five-day summer flute camp is open to flutists of all ages. Flute camp activities include warm-ups, ensembles, sightreading, special guest presenters, and workshops. San Diego Flute Guild teachers are invited to teach classes or volunteer in other ways to help the flute camp run smoothly.
    Besides the spring festival and summer camp, the flute guild hosts a holiday flute choir concert, a duet and ensemble competition, a chamber music festival for ensembles containing at least one flutist, and a fall members’ recital. Dates for each event are posted on the website. The guild also has a scholarship program with awards available for flute study, instruments, or other aspects of music education.
    The San Diego Flute Guild’s website, includes a teacher directory, accompanist list, and pdf files of newsletters back to 2006.

The Texas Flute Society
    The Texas Flute Society began as the Texas Flute Club in 1974 as an effort to bring flutists and flute lovers of all ages in the North Texas community together. Approximately twenty people attended the first meeting of the club, and at the end of its first year, a small string orchestra was hired to accompany area flutists at an inaugural concert. In the first several years the club initiated meetings on flute-related topics and their well-known annual Flute Festival. In 1983, the club changed its name to the Texas Flute Society.
    The current mission of the Texas Flute Society is to further the activities and education of flutists in North Central Texas; to sponsor concerts, workshops, clinics, masterclasses, and festivals at which members and guest artists can perform and disseminate information; and to direct efforts toward cultural and educational values in and for the general community, striving for activities with a public interest wider than that of members and contributors. In 1979 the Texas Flute Club served as the hosts for the NFA annual convention at the Hotel Adolphus in Dallas.
    Perhaps their most important event is the annual flute festival. Under the leadership of Myrna Brown, the third president of the Texas Flute Club, the first festival was held in November 1977, the fourth year of the club’s existence, and attracted 100 attendees. Albert Tipton was the guest artist, and the focus of that first festival was the Baroque period. Currently, the festival attracts over 1,500 flutists.
    In addition to the annual festival, now held each May, the Texas Flute Society sponsors a fall and a spring event. They include panels, performances, and masterclasses by renowned artists and teachers. Two competitions are sponsored by the Texas Flute Society, both of which occur in conjunction with the festival. The prestigious Myrna W. Brown Artist Competition is open to all flutists with no age limit. In addition to cash prizes, the winner is invited to appear as a guest artist at the next Texas Flute Festival. The Donna Marie Haire Young Artist Competition is open to all high school flutists, grades 9 through 12, or equivalent, who are between the ages of 14 and 19 during that academic year. The winners of the competition receive cash prizes to further their flute studies.
    The Texas Flute Society’s website,, includes links to the club’s history, membership information, a detailed list of officers, a directory of teachers, archived newsletters, events listings, and links that might interest members. Throughout the society’s existence, the leadership has endeavored to keep the original goals of the club in mind: to provide a place for flutists of all ages and abilities to perform and learn more about the instrument, and to provide first-class performances for all music lovers.
    Flute clubs continue to provide opportunities for masterclasses, flute festivals, performance, competition, scholarship, and the creation of new works for flute. Look in your area to see if a flute club already exists and get involved. If one is not available, gather some hard-working flutists and start one of your own.

Special thanks to Phyllis Avidan Louke (Greater Portland Flute Society), Meg Griffith (Texas Flute Society), Tammy Yonce (Atlanta Flute Club), Teresa Muir (Chicago Flute Club), and Cindy Anne Broz (San Diego Flute Club), who graciously shared information on the flute clubs covered in this article.