The Fifth International Convention of the Flute was held October 20-23 at the Maurice Ravel Conservatory in Levallois (a suburb of Paris). The Conservatory, with an impressive glass front building, is down the street from the town hall of Levallois. The theme of the convention was Flute Spirit, and one felt the musical flavor immediately upon walking through the door, simply because it took place in a music conservatory. The exhibitions were on the second floor in a series of classrooms. This was an advantage over a single big hall because it allowed people to try a flute and actually hear what they were playing.
The list of exhibitors included familiar names from the National Flute Association conventions as well as European-based companies. One classroom was dedicated to musical scores which were a pleasure to browse. The performance venues included rehearsal and lecture halls plus a 450-seat auditorium. There were approximately 500 to 600 attendees each day.
L’Association Française de la Flûte was created in 1983. Between 1985 and 1989, three Flute Forums were held in Villeurbanne/Lyon, under the leadership of then president Sophie Dufeutrelle. These were followed by five conventions in Paris between 1998 and 2016. The next convention is projected to be held in Strasbourg in 2019.
I made the trip from Indiana specially to hear a concert by Maxence Larrieu. He became a flute icon to me after I heard his performance at the NFA Convention in Chicago two years ago when he was 80. His notable biography includes two performances of the Poulenc Sonata for Flute and Piano with Poulenc at the piano, who told him the tempo marking of the second movement was too slow. On Thursday evening Larrieu performed Bach’s Sonata in G, BWV 535, Mozart’s Andante and Rondo, Schubert’s Sonatine in D Major, and was joined by András Adorján to conclude the program with the Kuhlau Trio in G major, Op. 119. Larrieu’s musicianship, phrasing, technical ability, and warm supple tone were completely evident even though he had just returned from Japan two days previously.
Maxence Larrieu playing Mozart Concerto in G, K. 313 with the Universal Flute Orchestra Japan conducted by Phillipe Bernold.
On Friday morning, I attended a flute choir concert dedicated to pedagogy using students at the Maurice Ravel Conservatory. The personnel of the flute choir rotated between flutists of various ages and levels of performance. The program included works by Bizet, John Williams, Guiot, Chris-topher Caliendo and more. My friend Sophie Dufeutrelle’s composition Concerto Aurore for alto flute and flute choir was also performed with Jeanne Marie Savouret playing alto flute. This work was premiered at La Côte Flute Festival in Geneva in 2014 where Matthias Ziegler played the solo (Contrabass and quatertone flute) with Phillipe Bernold conducting the Geneva Chamber Orchestra.
The next concert I heard was Korean flutist Jasmine Choi playing Telemann’s Fantaisie No. 1 in A Major and Ian Clarke’s Great Train Race. She then collaborated with guitarist Benjamin Biers to perform Henri Sauguet’s Six Easy Pieces, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Sonatine, Op. 205, and Astor Piazzola’s Histoire du Tango. Choi performed with her usual aplomb, beautiful sound, and impressive technique. The ensemble playing with guitar was excellent.
The Friday evening concert featured the Ensemble Antara of Santiago, Chile. On entering the hall, the eye was immediately drawn to the half-human size pan pipes (zampoñas) and the trutruca which looks like a very skinny Alpenhorn. For me the music was disappointing as I had hoped to hear indigenous sounds but instead this concert was all contemporary compositions and sounds. Alex Sorba followed in a beat box extravaganza.
On Saturday morning Sophie Dufeutrelle presented a pedagogy lecture Profs-Agiles (Agile Teachers). It is difficult to report on a French lecture of which one has understood about half, but the gist of it focused on how the conditions of life influence learning. Later in the day Patrick Gallois, flute; Pierre-Henri Xuereb, viola; and Fabrice Pierre, harp collaborated brilliantly on the Claude Debussy Sonata for flute, viola, and harp. The tempos were ferocious, the melodic shaping exquisite, and the colors radiant.
If you look at the program online (www.convention.traversieres.