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NFA 2017: Minneapolis

Leonard Garrison | July 2017

The 2017 National Flute Association convention will be held August 10-13 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The exciting event features more than 100 recitals, competitions, masterclasses, workshops, panels, and lecture/recitals – something for everyone.


    It is easy to get to Minneapolis, as the airport is a major hub, and the Twin Cities are a day’s drive for a large segment of the American and Canadian population. The Minneapolis Convention Center is a state-of-the-art facility featuring a real performance hall and several grab-and-go dining options. Connected by skyway to the Minneapolis Hilton and just two blocks from the Hyatt Regency, the center is close to many other hotels, restaurants, and brewpubs. Those needing a break from non-stop fluting can visit many beautiful parks, the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, or the huge Mall of America. By the way, concurrent with the convention is the Twin Cities Early Music Festival.
Gala Concerts
    The Thursday night concert features Native American flutist, hoop dancer, and storyteller Kevin Locke, extended techniques virtuoso Robert Dick, and engaging soloist Alena Lugovkina. On Friday, Baroque flutist Jed Wentz and Los Angeles Philharmonic principal flutist Denis Bouriakov perform, and Jim Walker plays the world premiere of Frank Ticheli’s new concerto for flute and wind ensemble, Silver Lining. At the Saturday Gala Concerto Concert, Ian Clarke performs his new concerto, Time Dominoes, while Jean-Louis Beaumadier presents the American premiere of Jean-Michel Damase’s piccolo concerto, and Detroit Symphony piccoloist Jeffery Zook performs Egil Hovalnd’s concerto. In addition, Alexa Still plays Elliott Carter’s flute concerto, and Chicago Symphony principal flutist Stefán Höskuldssen performs Nielsen’s concerto. The gala closing concert on Sunday features numerous well-known flutists performing shorter, lighter works.
World Premieres 
    Convention-goers can meet composers David Froom and Laura Schwendinger, who introduce their works commissioned by the NFA and performed by flutists Adam Kuenzel and Jonathan Keeble; the same works are featured in the High School Soloist and Young Artist Competi-tions. There are dozens of additional world premieres. New music aficionados will enjoy programs titled New Flute Solos, New Music from Europe, Electronica, and The Power of One: Diverse Solo Flute Works from the Last Two Decades.
International Performers
    William Bennett celebrates his 80th birthday by performing with his star students, Denis Bouriakov, Alena Lugofkina, and Joel Tse, and teaching a class on Marcel Moyse’s 24 Short Melodious Studies. Susan Milan performs a 70th birthday recital, and Matthias Ziegler presents on extended techniques and performs an improvised program with Ali Ryerson. Canada’s sesquicentennial is feted with a program of music by that nation’s composers and performed mostly by Canadian flutists. There are programs devoted to music from Brazil, Mexico, France, Ireland, Britain, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Russia, and Turkey featuring flutists from those countries. Myrna Brown International Scholarship recipient Mark Fülep performs a program of Hungarian standards and folk music.
Local Color
    Minnesota is home to the American Composers Forum and many leading composers, and the NFA convention features several concerts devoted to them, including a retrospective of the music of Libby Larsen with the composer introducing each work. Flutists from the Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and local university faculties perform. Current and former principal flutists of the SPCA, Julia Bogorad-Kogan and Carol Wincenc, share a recital, and another program features stellar flutists who grew up in Minnesota. 

Performances for Every Interest 
    Recitals feature tributes to Ervin Monroe, Laurie Sokoloff, and Linda Mintener. Other concerts include the annual Remembrance and Healing concert, retrospectives of the music of Keith Gates and Timothy Hagen, several early music concerts on period instruments, Colorado flutists, African American and Latin American composers, American Women composers, “Virtuosity and the Modern Moving Flutist,” and flute and film.
    Competitions include High School Soloist, Orchestral Audition, Piccolo Orchestral Audition, and Young Artist, and convention attendees can enjoy performances of the Newly Published Music Competition’s winning works performed by the winners of the Convention Performers Competition. 
    Chamber concerts feature flute quartets, trios, and duets, duets for flute and other instruments (including voice), woodwind quintets, and any imaginable chamber combination. More than 20 flute choirs from all over the U.S. and Taiwan perform in showcase recitals, noon-time lobby concerts, and pre-gala featured concerts.  
    Cabarets feature Greg Pattillo and Project Trio, charanga flute legend Art Webb, and the NFA Jazz Flute Big Band with Billy Kerr. Steve Kujala leads the NFA Jazz Flute Masterclass, and Sarpay Özçagatay gives an additional jazz flute class. A “Jazz Meets Classical” concert explores the intersection of these two genres with music by Uri Brener, Nikolai Kapustin, and Peter Senchuk. 
    Besides the gala concerts mentioned above, the piccolo figures prominently at this convention, with a tribute to Laurie Sokoloff and three full programs of solo piccolo music including a recital by Jean-Louis Beaumadier. At the other end of the spectrum, low flutes are equally represented with programs of solo and ensemble music.
Participatory Events
    The 10,000 Lakes Flute Orchestra, conducted by Pamela Youngblood, will perform at the opening ceremonies and is open to all NFA members. Christine Beard, Danielle Breisach, and Julie Sooy will hold flute choir reading sessions, Paige Dasher Long conducts a low flutes ensemble reading session, and Ali Ryerson leads a Jazz Flute Big Band reading session. Wendy Kumer and Uwe Grodd offer a flute choir conducting masterclass in which the demo choir is the audience. A volunteer adult amateur flute choir performs at a local church service on Sunday. At the closing ceremonies, NFA President Kyle Dzapo conducts all NFA members in a performance of the Bach Air from the Third Suite, an NFA tradition.
    Each day begins with one or two sessions on yoga, tai chi, pilates, or other warmups and stretches. Other participatory workshops cover Irish flute, Native American flute, an open masterclass for amateurs, jazz flute, historically-informed performance of Baroque music for modern flutists, teaching beginning flutists, college teaching, performance health and injury prevention, chunking, free improvisation with Robert Dick, and nuance tapers with Walfrid Kujala.
    With the many panels, workshops, and lectures, there is much to learn in the four days. A distinguished panel of Jeanne Baxtresser, Stefan Höskuldsson, and Jim Walker relate how to get along with colleagues, conductors, and contractors in an orchestra. Others cover recording a CD, teaching a masterclass for a college interview, connecting with communities of color, commissioning new works, playing second flute in the orchestra, doubling on flute and piccolo, charanga, and writing program notes. Lectures and workshops address the music of Ian Clarke, extended techniques, teaching and performing the Copland Duo, the development of the flute in 19th Century France, Dalcroze eurhythmics, world flutes, and performance health, Winners of the Graduate Research Competition present their research on the flute in 18th-century Scotland and the prepared flute.
    Denis Bouriakov, Jim Walker, and Nina Perlove present solo masterclasses, Ervin Monroe holds the orchestra audition masterclass, Sarah Jackson leads the piccolo orchestral audition masterclass, and Jed Wentz presents the NFA Baroque masterclass.

Youth Flute Day 

    The young and young at heart are invited for a fun-filled Sunday, attending sessions on extended techniques with Ian Clarke and piccolo with Zach Galatis, a petting zoo for flutes of all sizes, and performances by the Fourth Wall Ensemble, Diane Schultz, Maxim Rubitsov, the National High School Flute Choir, and the winner of the NFA High School Soloist Competition. 


    Reserve your seat now for the NFA Gala Dinner honoring Lifetime Achievement Awardees Ervin Monroe, longtime Detroit Symphony principal flutist, and Laurie Sokoloff, longtime piccoloist of the Baltimore Symphony. The Distinguished Service Award recipient is Linda Mintener, NFA pro bono legal advisor. This year’s Flute Lover’s Lunch features three guests for the price of one, beatboxing flutist Greg Pattillo and his Project Trio colleagues Peter Seymour and Eric Stephenson. Guest speaker for Food for the Day’s Journey (formerly the Teacher’s Breakfast) is Leone Buyse. On Thursday, meet new NFA friends at the Myrna Brown DineAround in which flutists sample local restaurants. After the Saturday gala, attendees are invited to mingle and share a refreshment with our world-renowned soloists.
    This 45th annual convention is guaranteed to inspire you. You will grow as a flutist, make new friends who share your passion for the instrument, and provide the energy, knowledge, and skills to propel you through your next year of flute playing.