Close this search box.

Selecting Repertoire

Sara Nichols | December 2018

    In the June 1975 issue of The Instrumentalist magazine, Robert K. Webb wrote, “The flute choir or large flute ensemble is really just beginning to capture the imagination of flute teachers, band directors and composers. Both high school and college directors have found it to be an excellent means of giving their many flute players ensemble experience. As a result, interest in the flute choir has grown faster than the available music.” In Webb’s annotated flute choir bibliography, he lists 25 possible pieces for study and performance. Today there are more than 25 new pieces published each month. This explosion of writing for flute choir may leave flute choir directors wondering what they should pick for their programs. 

    The Baltimore Flute Choir is a diverse ensemble, ranging from players with extensive training and professional experience to those with more limited exposure to thorough fundamentals. Some players developed a solid musical background in their youth, while other younger members may have started college as music majors and later selected a different career path. All of the players are now working to rebuild and develop their flute skills. My objective is to bring all of these people together to present the most effective and engaging program possible to our audiences. The collective intent remains to elevate skills while enjoying the process and the camaraderie.  
    When it comes to selecting repertoire, it is essential to first assess the group’s strengths and shortcomings. For example, I discovered that one of our members also plays a brilliant Irish whistle, so she has been a featured soloist on numerous occasions. Repertoire with Celtic or other folk traditions can be adapted to accommodate this petite wooden flute’s soaring and soulful timbre. Another member, a recent flute performance graduate, will perform Kent Kennan’s Night Soliloquy, arranged for soloist with flute choir accompaniment by Robert Webb. The variety of a soloist adds a welcome reprieve to a program chock-full of substantial flute choir offerings. 
    When we assign parts, I make sure there are strong players in each section including the low flutes. Their leadership skills allow less experienced players to perform side by side with more confidence. Consequently, we try to balance each section while trying to allow for some variety of part assignments. Of course, the group sounds its best when the blend is first-rate. 
    Even though I have accrued an extensive library of flute choir repertoire over the years, I am always in pursuit of new and unique selections. I rely on suggestions from colleagues in addition to checking out reviews in periodicals and on social media, and hearing works programmed at conventions. The BFC generally presents two full formal concerts each season. However, we currently have additional performances lined up at two retirement communities plus two holiday concerts. 
    As a result, our burgeoning folders now contain a wide range of repertoire, from which a program is designed specifically for each audience. At every rehearsal I like to briefly focus on repertoire that is very challenging and must be rehearsed in manageable bits or movements, in tandem with less demanding music. While the latter selections can provide a welcome sense of accomplishment, they also help to set the pace for a successful concert flow: from the most ambitious to lighter fare. This easier repertoire may include a variety of original flute choir pieces plus popular tunes, holiday favorites, patriotic medleys, and traditional arrangements. 
    Our first concert this season will take place at a modest shopping mall that features numerous concerts by area performing choral and instrumental groups each December. The mall is especially popular because it showcases an enormous holiday train display. This audience is always receptive, often singing and dancing along to our selections. It is like a huge holiday party, so I program popular selections with more limited traditional fare. We will include Nicole Chamberlain’s Railroaded, a favorite of both BFC members and audiences for the past two seasons, as we perform right next to the train garden. This concert is a departure from most of our performances because of the high proportion of popular works. 

The Baltimore Flute Choir

This concert will also include: 

Christmas Oratorio (selected movements) by Arcangelo Corelli, arr. Elizabeth Sadilek (Southern Music Company) 
We Need a Little Christmas by Jerry Herman, arr. Ricky Lombardo (Lombardo Music Publications) 
Eight Christmas Carols for Flute Quartet (selected carols) arr. Victoria Jicha (Music Makers, Inc.) 
A Ukrainian Bell Carol arr. Alexandra Molnar-Suhajda ( Publications) 
African Noel arr. Ann Cameron Pearce (Falls House Press) 
Mary, Did You Know? By Buddy Green and Mark Lowry, arr. Phyllis Avidan Louke (Louke Publishing) 
A Prayer for Peace by Karissa Dennis, arr. Phyllis Avidan Louke (Louke Publishing) 
Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson, arr. Lisa Ochoco (Lisa Ochoco) 
Mele Kalikimaka by R. Alex Anderson, arr. Lisa Ochoco (Lisa Ochoco) 
Hanakkuh Suite which includes Sevivon (Spinning Top), Hanukkah, Haneirot Halalu (Lighting the Candles), and Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages) arr. Harriet Katz (Baltimore composer; self-published) 
Linus and Lucy, from Peanuts by Vince Guaraldi, arr. Phyllis Avidan Louke (Louke Publishing) 
You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch by Albert Hague, arr. Lisa Ochoco (Lisa Ochoco) 
White Christmas by Irving Berlin, arr. James-Michael Sellars (JMS Composer) 
Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano, arr. Lisa Ochoco (Lisa Ochoco) 
Jingle Bells by James Pierpont, arr. Valerie Coleman (
    Our second holiday performance this season is unusual because it is more of a gig, to use musician’s lingo. It is at an exclusive venue, and due to the size of the performance space, we can take only eleven members. it is also three hours long, which is triple the length of a regular concert. All of the music will be in a notebook binder, each page in a plastic sleeve, and each selection numbered. The players will receive a list with a pre-determined order for the play list. In the event there is a request, we can each turn to the correct selection with no delay. A heavier, more substantial music stand with a stand light will be needed. I like rechargeable LED stand lights for their clarity and durability. While they are pricier than the battery powered varieties, they are worth every penny. Of course, another option is to load each selection into an iPad Pro, which eliminates the need for heavy stands, plastic sleeves, and stand lights. 
    We have two concerts scheduled in early January at different retirement communities. While we will perform several holiday favorites, including additional movements of the Corelli, which features two C flute and one alto flute soloist, we will also include two patriotic selections, always well received by the residents. 

Rose City Flute Choir with Phyllis Louke

The programs for January include: 

Sonata in D major for 3 flutes by J.J. Quantz, all players on C flutes (Amadeus Verlag) 
Christmas Oratorio (selected movements) by Arcangelo Corelli, arr. Elizabeth Sadilek (Southern Music Company) 
Suite on English Folktunes by John Rutter, arr. Robert Rainford (Forton Music) 
Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla, arr. Mel Orriss (Wonderful Winds) 
George M. Cohan Medley arr. Paul Nagle (Musicians Publications) 
A Prayer for Peace by Karissa Dennis, arr. Phyllis Avidan Louke (Louke Publishing) 
Adagio by Samuel Barber, arr. Martin Melcharik (Camellia Flutes Pub. Co.) 
America the Beautiful by Samuel A. Ward/
Katharine Lee Bates, arr. Kelly Via (Nourse Wind Publications) 
Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson, arr. Lisa Ochoco (Lisa Ochoco) 

    This program is typical for concerts we present at retirement communities. Note how it progresses from all C flutes to the full choir. We will then introduce the flute family: from the piccolo to our new contrabass. The more serious music is located at the front end of the concert. Moving to the Piazzolla will signal a more relaxed direction. The Cohan is energetic, and will be accompanied by a string bass. The Prayer for Peace is followed by the familiar Barber Adagio which will create a continued calming effect. We encourage a the audience to sing along with America the Beautiful by handing out copies of the lyrics. Ending the concert with Sleigh Ride makes for a toe-tapping, upbeat finale. 

Spring concerts will include: 
Sonata in D Major for 3 flutes by J.J. Quantz, all players on C flutes (Amadeus Verlag) 
Suite on English Folktunes by John Rutter, arr. Robert Rainford (Forton Music) 
Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla, arr. Mel Orriss (Wonderful Winds) 
A Prayer for Peace by Karissa Dennis, arr. Phyllis Avidan Louke (Louke Publishing) 
Adagio by Samuel Barber, arr. Martin Melcharik (Camellia Flutes Pub. Co.) 
Avant-Garde Sampler by Martha Rearick (Falls House Press) 
Celestial Bodies by Gary Schocker (Theodore Presser) 
Lower Wacker Drive by Peter Senchuk (Forest Glade Music) 
Flute Joy by Jonathan Cohen (ALRY Publications) 
Night Soliloquy by Kent Kennan, arr. Robert K. Webb (Carl Fischer Music) 
Sea and Stone by Douglas Buchanan (
Irish Music for Flexible Flute Ensemble arr. Phyllis Avidan Louke (ALRY) featuring Irish whistle 

    While it is too early to determine a program order, it will be based on numerous factors including the audience, performance venues, and rehearsal schedule, which is at the mercy of the all-too-capricious winter weather gods. 
    Before working on concert music, I find it is beneficial to begin each rehearsal with a brief yet comprehensive warmup, performed on C flutes by all. While I strongly encourage a regular practice routine between rehearsals, I understand that family obligations and professional schedules often take precedence. We use the warm-up time as a means to get in the groove, to listen acutely to each other, and further develop musical intuition. It often takes several minutes to quiet the mind and focus the players’ collective energies. This process improves cohesion and enables us to unify our efforts. The warm-up material comes from two books each member must purchase. They address fundamentals from posture to hand position, tone, harmonics, scales, intonation, articulation, vibrato and much more. I like to focus on one or two areas each week, and spotlight issues found in the performance repertoire. 
    For instance, the final movement of John Rutter’s Suite on English Folktunes contains extended sections that require fast triple tonguing. So, in the warmup, I make a variation of a regular double-tonguing exercise and substitute triple-tonguing. Make the goal tempo for the exercise faster than the performance tempo for the movement. Making direct correlations with effective practice strategies for specific challenging passages in the repertoire will save time in the long run plus increase the quality of the performance. Practice on technical skills in warm-ups also means that players can focus on musical elements when rehearsing the performance works. 
    Sometimes I will start with scales in unisons, rounds, or perhaps arpeggios in opposite directions to address intonation tendencies by tuning in octaves, thirds, fifths, and so on. Another option is to have the C flutes play prearranged chord progressions while the low flutes play a drone. It makes for interesting and effective opportunities to be aware, listen and adjust intonation. The time allotted for warm-up is just 10-15 minutes, so it must be efficient. 

* * *
A Collection of Flute Choir Programs 
    A number of flute choir directors share their upcoming and recent programs. The works on them may offer inspiration for your ensemble. 

Atlanta Metro Youth Flute Choir
Kelly Via, Conductor 

Fanfare 20, James Christensen
I Paused in the Wood, Jonathan Cohen
Oblivion, Astor Piazzolla/arr. Mel Orris
Three Korean Folk Songs, Kelly Via
Uplift, Mark J. Connor

Camellia Flutes
Martin Melicharek, Conductor

Fanfare, Kahkonen
Belle from Beauty and the Beast 
Hannukah Suite, Hays 
Shepherd’s Hay, Grainger
Sussex Mummer’s Christmas Carol, Grainger, Arr. Melicharek
Orchestra Suite No. 2 in B minor, various movements, J.S. Bach 
Chats, Berthomieu 
English Folksongs, John Rutter, Arr. Rainford

Camellia Flutes
Martin Melicharek, Conductor

Fanfare, Kahkonen
Belle from Beauty and the Beast
I Wonder as I Wander, Arr. Nishimura
Hannukah Suite, Hays
Sussex Mummers Christmas Carol, Grainger, Arr. Melicharek 
Christmas Day, Holst, Arr. Melicharek
Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor, various movements, J.S. Bach
Andante, Mozart, Arr. Melicharek 
Nutcracker, Various Dances, Tchaikovsky
English Folksongs, John Rutter, Arr. Rainford

Fox Valley Flute Choir
Patricia George, Conductor

Sonata No. 2 in D Major, Telemann
Goldfinch Concerto, Vivaldi
Canon and Gigue, Pachelbel
Air, Bach, Arr. Christensen
Christmas Concerto, Corelli, Arr. Hal Ott

Illinois Valley Flute Ensemble
Sue Gillio, Conductor

Dancing Devil, Jeffrey Ouper
Pirates’ Escapade, Christina Wetzler
The Hebrides Overture, Mendelssohn, Arr. by A. Cooper
Dance of the Dryads from Symphony No. 3, “Im Walde” by Joachim Raff, Arr. by Matt Johnston
from Suite for Organ by Albinoni, Arr. Ann Cameron Pearce
Piano Sonata Op. 27, No 2 “Moonlight Sonata,” Beethoven, Arr. Rick Pierce
Valse from Sleeping Beauty, Tchaikovsky, Arr. Ben-Meir

Mercer University Flute Choir
Kelly Via, Conductor

Fanfare 20, James Christensen
Sierra Morning Freedom, Jonathan Cohen
Paths of Deeper Gold, Alexandra Molnar-Suhajda
Cori Spezzati con Variazioni, Masamicz Amano
Journey to Enceladus, Christopher Alan Schmitz
TBD (holiday)
French Nativity Suite, Kelly Via
Sleigh Ride, Leroy Anderson, Arr. Mitchell Parish

Pittsburgh Flute Academy
Wendy Webb Kumer, Conductor

Christmas Carol Suite, Bill Holcombe
Fantasia on Greensleeves, Vaughan Williams, Arr. McGinty 
Wexford Carol, Arr. Ann Cameron Pearce 
Winter Passage, Gay Kahkonen 
French Nativity “Il est Ne,” Kelly Via
Eternal Source of Light Divine, Handel 
Apres Une Reve, Faure 
Sicilienne, Von Paradis 
St. Paul Suite, Gustav Holst 
Salut d’Amour, Edward Elgar 
Boyce Symphony No. 1, William Boyce 
If Ye Love Me, Thomas Tallis 
The Lord Bless You, John Rutter 
Sing We Now of Christmas, Amy Rice Young 
Lo, How a Rose, Johannes Brahms 
Carol of the Bells, Arr. James Christensen

Rose City Flute Choir
Phyllis Avidan Louke, Conductor

Carol of the Bells/We Three Kings, arr. Louke 
A Child is Born, Jones & Wilder, Arr. Annicchiarico 
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, J.S. Bach, Arr. John E. Davis 
There Is No Rose, Stroope, Arr. Louke 
African Noel, Arr. Ann Cameron Pearce 
Mi Y’Malel from Hanukah Suite, Arr. Louke 
A Renaissance Noel, Arr. Catherine McMichael 
Breath of Heaven, arr. Louke 
He is Born (Il est Né) from Joyeux Noel, Arr. Amy Rice-Young 
We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Arr. Ann Cameron Pearce 

Rose City Flute Choir
Phyllis Avidan Louke, Conductor

Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson, Arr. Orriss 
The Chanukah Song (We Are Light), Stephen Schwartz, Arr. Louke 
Bring a Torch, Arr. Melicharek 
Lo, How a Rose, Arr. Jennifer Haines 
A Prayer for Peace by Karissa Dennis, Arr. Louke 
Missa Tu Es Petrus “Gloria,” Palestrina, Arr. John E. Davis 
German Requiem, “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place,” Brahms, Arr. Rearick 
Ringing in Christmas, Arr. Louke 
Alleluia by Manuel, Arr. Jicha 
Secret Language of Snow, Kirk Vogel 
Infant Holy, Infant Lowly, Arr. Pearce 
Mary, Did You Know?, Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene, Arr. Louke 
Hallelujah Chorus, Handel, Arr. Lisa Ochoco 

Texas State University Flute Choir
Adah Toland Jones, Conductor

Fanfare for a Festival, Colin Hand
Cross the Wide Missouri, Kelly Via 
The Elements, Cynthia Folio
I’ll Love My Love, Holst, Arr. Louke
Paths of Deeper Gold, Alexandra Molnar-Suhajda 
México Mágico, Rubén Flores

Texas State University Flute Choir
Adah Toland Jones, Conductor

Canzon Vigesimanona No. 29, G. Frescobaldi, Arr. H. Svitzer 
Self-portrait with Orlando, Joel Hoffman 
Lyric Poem, G.F. McKay 
Sonatina, Friedrich Kuhlau 
Canzon Vigesimaquarta No. 24, G. Guami, Arr. H. Svitzer 

Texas State University Flute Choir
Adah Toland Jones, Conductor

I Sing the Body Eclectic, Thomas Duffy 
Children of the Wind, Catherine McMichael 
Monochrome V, Peter Schickele 
Tarantella, Alberto Guidobaldi 
Peace is the Way, Katherine Hoover 

Texas State University Flute Choir
Adah Toland Jones, Conductor

Night, Franz Abt, Arr. Austin A Scott 
Symphony No. 6: “Le Matin,” J. Haydn, Arr. Adah Toland Jones 
Appalachian Sketches, Melvyn Lauf, Jr. 
Cantata No. 206, “Hark now! The gentle flutes in chorus,” J.S. Bach, Arr. Martha Rearick
Purple Earth I, II, III, Samantha Cooke 
Cantique de Jean Racine, Gabriel Fauré, Arr. Trevor Wye 

Texas State University Flute Choir
Adah Toland Jones, Conductor

Sellenger’s Round, William Byrd 
Symphony No. 41, Allegro vivace, W.A. Mozart 
Aus Holberg’s Zeit, Edvard Grieg 
Fluten II, Vincenzo Sorrentino 
I Sing the Body Eclectic, Thomas Duffy 
Children of the Wind, Catherine McMichael 

Texas State University Flute Choir
Adah Toland Jones, Conductor

Au Matin, Benjamin Godard, Arr. Gordon Jones 
Overture to The Barber of Seville, Gioachino Rossini, Arr. R. McHenry 
Elegy, Cynthia Folio 
Tapestries, Alexandra Molnar-Suhajda 
Intermezzo from “Goyescas,” Enriques Granados, Arr. R.S. Howland 
Dusty Chesterfield, Jen McLachlen 

Texas State University Flute Choir
Adah Toland Jones, Conductor

Les Fauvettes, N. Bousquet, Arr. C. Fleming 
Diffusion and Light, Ladd McIntosh 
Blue Train, Ryohei Hirose 
Sleep, My Baby “Suo Gân,” Arr. Ann Cameron Pearce 
Concerto Grosso, Op. 6, No. 8, “Christmas Concerto,” Arcangelo Corelli, Arr. Weinziel & Wächter 
Scrambling, Charles DeLaney, Arr. K. Barton

Texas State University Flute Choir
Adah Toland Jones, Conductor

Three Russian Folk Songs, Anatole Liadov, Arr. John Wheeler 
Ave Maria Cesar, Alejandro Carrillo, Trans. Katherine Borst Jones 
Cyclorama, Fisher Tull 
Elements, Cynthia Folio 
Symphony No. 25, Allegro con brio, W.A. Mozart, Arr. Shaul Ben-Meir 

Texas State University Flute Choir
Adah Toland Jones, Conductor

Beckett’s Whisper, Ron Korb 
Symphony No. 8, Allegretto Grazioso, Antonín Dvo˘rák  
Girl from Ipanema, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Arr. Kelly Via 
Streaming Green, Nancy Galbraith 
Five Traditional Songs from the Basque Country, Arr. Gordon Jones 

Texas State University Flute Choir
Adah Toland Jones, Conductor

Renaissance Dance Suite, Arr. V. Jicha 
A Gaelic Offering, Catherine McMichael 
Seal Lullaby, Eric Whitacre, Arr. Julia Escobar 
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Text by Eric Carle, Musical setting by Richard Hall 

Texas State University Flute Choir
Adah Toland Jones, Conductor

Symphony No. 6 “Le Matin,” Franz Joseph Haydn, Trans. Adah Toland Jones 
Wordless Songs, Judy Nishimura 
Noel Suisse, Louis-Claude Daquin, Arr. A. Ephross 
Quartets for Flutes, Béla Bartók 
A Little Norwegian Suite, Edvard Grieg, Arr. T.E. Berg 
Malagueña, Ernesto Lecuona, Arr. A.C. Pearce 

The Ohio State University Flute Troupe
Katherine Borst Jones, Director 

Celebrate, Ervin Monroe
By Kells Waters, Celtic folk song, Arr. By Kelly Via 
Suite for seven flutes, Paul Gilson 
Harmonius Blacksmith Variations, George F. Handel, Arr. By Katherine Borst Jones 
Andante Festivivo, Jean Sibelius, Arr. Ervin Monroe 
Streaming Green, Nancy Galbraith 
Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Irving Berlin, Arr. By Bill Holcombe 
Hang on Sloopy, Traditional

University of Texas RGV
Cristina Ballatori, Conductor

Tarantella, Alberto Guidobaldi
There is No Rose, Z. Randall Stroope, Arr. Phyllis Avidan Louke
Loops No 1. for Beatbox Flute Quartet, Brandy Hudelson
Monochrome V, Peter Schickele
Salsita, Victor Rojas