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NFA 2019: Salt Lake City

Rebecca Johnson | July 2019

   The four days of the convention are filled with a variety of events such as concerts, lectures, workshops and participatory flute choirs. Each day’s schedule includes programming for many different interest groups, from jazz and historical flutes to piccolo, flute choir, or pedagogy. The evenings bring everyone together with a flute choir concert in the lobby, followed by a celebratory Gala Concert. The Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening concerts are all scheduled in the Utah Symphony’s world-class Abravanel Hall.

Gala Concerts
   The Thursday evening concert celebrates the first full day of events. Joanie Madden and Cherish the Ladies open with energetic Irish music and story-telling, and Hungarian flutist Gergely Ittzés performs his own composition, A Most International Flute Festival, in which he recreates the sound of the world’s flutes on a modern instrument. New York City jazz flutist Christian Artmann and his quartet close the concert with an innovative take on jazz and the flute.
   Featured flutists on Friday evening’s Gala Concert include the Cincinnati Symphony’s Randy Bowman, the new University of Kansas flute professor Daniel Velasco, Milwaukee Symphony’s principal flutist Sonora Slocum, and Italian piccoloist Nicola Mazzanti. The concert features new works by Leonardo Cárdenas, Alessandro Cavicchi and Michael Chertock, as well as the Liebermann Sonata. Hybrid arts ensemble The Fourth Wall, with flutist Hilary Abigana, adds dramatic content to the event with their staged performance of A Toy Soldier’s Tale, composed by Brett Abigaña.
   Saturday’s Concerto Gala concert brings four works for flute and orchestra to the stage. Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Principal Flutist Chelsea Knox performs Eldin Burton’s flute concerto and University of Illinois professor Jonathan Keeble performs Richard Prior’s Concerto. Recent Kobe Competition winner Hélène Boulègue performs Theodor Verhey’s concerto, and Atlanta Symphony principal flutist Christina Smith will play André Jolivet’s concerto.

Special Meal Events
   Prior to Saturday’s Gala Concerto Concert, the awards banquet honors the two Lifetime Achievement Award Honorees for 2019, Susan Milan and Emerson DeFord. Tickets are available, and all are encouraged to attend. Other ticketed meals involve the Food for the Day’s Journey breakfast, with Marianne Gedigian speaking, and the Flute Lover’s Lunch, with Nancy Toff.

International Participants
   This year, performers are traveling from many countries including Belgium, Brazil, Finland, France, Italy, Hungary, Mexico, Panama, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The Myrna Brown International Scholarship winner is Khanyisile Mthetwa, currently the principal flutist of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra who will perform a full recital of music from South Africa.

Headliner Recitals
   Headliner recitals feature dynamic and varied performers. The Thursday recital includes Baroque specialist Na’ama Lion on traverso, and Stephanie Jutt performs music from Latin America. Friday’s recital is called Masterworks by Master Teachers, and features Bonita Boyd, Jonathan Keeble, John Thorne, and Linda Toote. Saturday’s recital includes chamber music between families – natural or constructed. Belgian piccoloist Peter Verhoyen performs with his son, Pieter-Jan Verhoyen, playing music by Debussy and Ravel, and Carol Wincenc shares a duo recital with her former student, April Clayton, playing music by Utah composers.

Tribute Events at the 2019 Convention
   This year’s Lifetime Achievement Awardees, Emerson DeFord and Susan Milan, have tribute events organized by former students and colleagues on Thursday evening and Friday afternoon. In addition, NFA Founder Phil Swanson (1939-2018) will be remembered by friends, students, and colleagues on Friday evening. The musical community acutely felt the loss of flutist and composer Katherine Hoover (1937-2018) last fall, and she is honored at the convention through more programmed works than any other composer. Bonita Boyd pays tribute to her memory with a performance of South Wind: Zephyr, a movement of the Four Winds concerto, at the final concert on Sunday.

Flute Choir
   Flute choir events are convention highlights. Groups applied from throughout the United States, and groups selected are from all over the country as well as Panama. There are three flute choirs with membership selected through competition – high school, collegiate, and professional – that will perform concerts on Sunday after several days of rehearsal. The Crosswinds of the West Adult Flute Choir is open to serious adult amateurs through pre-convention sign up. For drop-in participation, there are flute choir reading sessions, one of which focuses on new ensemble repertoire for low flutes. For anyone who wants to participate, join us for rehearsals for The Great Salt Lake Flute Orchestra, conducted by John Bailey and open to all convention attendees, beginning on Wednesday, July 31.

More Performances
   Among the many fantastic scheduled performers are Catherine Boyack, the 2018 Young Artist Competition winner, and several well-known international flutists on recitals. These include Sami Junnonen, Susan Milan on a shared recital with Brazilian flutist Rogerio Wolf, and a recital shared by Gergely Ittzés and Hélène Boulègue. A series of four Chamber Music Summits include a variety of mixed chamber ensembles. The Submerged concert starts with a premiere work by Miguel del Aguila, played by the Hat Trick Ensemble, and continues downward into works for lower and lower flutes, including ensembles.

   There are NFA commissions by Mary Kouyoumdjian and Alexandra Gardner that will challenge participants in the High School Soloist and Young Artist Competition. These will be officially premiered by Marianne Gedigian and Hilary Abigana after the conclusion of the competitions. The winning piece from the Flute Choir Composition Competition is to be performed by the auditioned Collegiate Flute Choir. In an NFA premiere, a work for five flutes and piccolos by Martin Amlin will be performed by Zart Dombourian-Eby, Linda Toote, Leone Buyse, Mary Stolper, and Helen Blackburn. Carol Wincenc will perform a new work she commissioned from Jake Heggie.

   In addition to listening and enjoying the music of other flutists, the convention provides attendees opportunities to participate and play. The dynamic group Project Trio, featuring flutist Greg Pattillo, has offered to provide an opportunity for flutists to play with the group. In honor of Katherine Hoover’s memory, composers Valerie Coleman, Nicole Chamberlain, and Amanda Harberg will sponsor a Flute Composing Speakeasy, in which the composers teach a masterclass on their own music, followed by a session in which flutists bring their own self-composed works to perform. Utah native James Brinkmann presents a lecture recital called “L”-Evating Art: The Artistic Listener, in which participants produce a communal piece of art as part of the experience.

Youth Flute Day
   For several years, NFA conventions have included youth events. This year’s Youth Flute Day will be on Saturday. The schedule includes a variety of educational programming for flutists ages 9-18. Participants will benefit from Sightreading Olympics, a Glissando headjoint introduction with Tammy Evans Yonce, an interactive workshop called Work and Play, and Flutist FAQ: YFD Edition – a series of small group discussions with members of the NFA’s Youth Engagement Committee about topics important to young players, such as taking care of the flute, purchasing a new instrument, playing with braces, alternate fingerings, piccolo, and low flutes. Youth Flute Day participants will also be treated to an encore performance by the High School Soloist competition winner.

   Many convention masterclasses participants are chosen through NFA competitions. This year, the Jazz Masterclass teacher is Holly Hofmann. The Masterclass Performers Compe-tition has two classes for its winners, taught by Gergely Ittzés and Susan Milan. The High School Soloist Competition also selects participants for a high school masterclass, taught by George Pope. The Orchestral Audition and Masterclass Competition features Christina Smith teaching the class after the audition, and Peter Verhoyen has the same role for the Piccolo Orchestral Audition and Masterclass Competition. Open masterclasses, where anyone can volunteer to participate, are scheduled for Baroque music on Friday, taught by Na’ama Lion, and for adult amateurs on Saturday with Angeleita Floyd.

Late Night Events
   For those who are up for late night entertainment, join us for a beverage and more from Joanie Madden and Cherish the Ladies on Thursday, a flute and piano duo with Christian Artmann and Laszlo Gardony and the Luce-Caliendo Duo on Friday, and the Jazz Flute Big Band on Saturday. If you stay up too late you can find a good cup of coffee in the morning from many outstanding nearby cafes.

   Lecture presentations are a part of every convention, and this year’s offerings provide flutists with some important opportunities. Copyright lawyer Catherine Lake addresses common questions that arise with the use of print music and recordings. A session of Lightening Talks brings attendees an hour of short presentations on a variety of subjects. Other lecture topics include Romantic Era Instruments, Cancer and Women’s Health, William Kincaid’s Performance and Pedagogy, the Prokofiev Sonata, and Movement Analysis.

   In addition to featured performances by jazz flutists Christian Artmann, Holly Hofmann and Ali Ryerson, jazz events appear throughout the convention. 2019 is a year for the Jazz Flute Big Band Competition, for which ensemble members have been selected through a competitive process. Saturday’s late-night event will feature this ensemble after many hours of rehearsal. Other notable jazz events include the Jazz Masterclass, taught by Holly Hofmann, and a Jazz Summit concert, featuring flutists Ali Ryerson, Nancy Stagnitta, Kim Helton, Shivhan Dohse, and Carla Campopiano. Philippe Barnes performs his own compositions on a short concert which fuses jazz with Celtic music.

Local Features
   The convention location inspired many NFA members in their proposals, including a variety of elevation-related titles. Flutists from Salt Lake City and the region proposed a truly excellent selection of events. The flute section of the Utah Symphony presents a concert featuring each of its three members.
   Brigham Young University Professor April Clayton is featured with Juilliard Professor Carol Wincenc on the Saturday headliner concert, performing music for flute duo by Utah composers. Pedagogy Through Chamber Music, including demonstrations by young flute and harp duos, will be presented by Suzuki teachers Nancy Wood and Artamisha Farnsworth, and the Celebrating Utah concert features many members of the Utah Flute Association as well as music by local composers.
   These are just highlights of the full convention extravaganza. It was only possible to schedule a small percentage of the excellent proposals to present and perform. If you can’t join us this year in Salt Lake City, start planning ahead for Dallas in August of 2020. If you are interested in presenting or performing, the Program Chair for that convention, Jennifer Grim, and her team will look forward to hearing your performances and ideas. Proposals are due by October 1, 2019, for the 2020 convention. I hope to see you in Salt Lake City!    

The full schedule and list of works to be performed are available online at

Things to do in Salt Lake City

Assembly Hall at Temple Square

   Salt Lake City is the hub for the Wasatch Front, a chain of cities along the Wasatch Mountains that runs from Nephi to Brigham City, a distance of 141 miles. About 80% of Utah’s population resides here. Besides observing the beauty of the sun shining on the Wasatch Mountains, you will notice how wide the streets are and how long the blocks are. When the city was being laid out, Brigham Young wanted the design to allow enough room to permit an ox-pulled wagon team to turn around without “resorting to profanity.” Major streets run north/south and east/west. At the center of the grid is Temple Square, the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Temple Square
   This area includes visitor centers, The Tabernacle, the Conference Center, Joseph Smith Memorial Building, The Beehive House, Church History Library, Family History Library (for genealogists), and the Assembly Hall among others. The 360-member Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square rehearses weekly on Thursday evenings at 7:30 PM for their Sunday morning broadcast, Music and The Spoken Word, the world’s longest-running continuous network broadcast. The 90 to 120-minute rehearsals are open to the public in the Conference Center beginning at 7:30 PM. To attend the Sunday morning broadcast at the Conference Center, the doors open at 8:30 AM, with everyone seated by 9:15. The broadcast begins at 10 AM and last approximately 30 minutes.

   The Salt Lake City main library, designed by Moshe Safdie, opened in 2003 and in 2004 received an Institute Honor Award from Architecture by the American Institute of Architects. Other buildings of interest are the Thomas Kearns Mansion (now the Governor’s Mansion), the Capitol, the Kearns building on Main Street, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, and the Cathedral of the Madeleine.

The Olympics
   In 2002 the XIX Olympic Winter Games were held in and around Salt Lake City. The Olympic Cauldron can be seen at the Olympic Cauldron Park at the Rice-Eccles Stadium. There is also a visitor’s center, and the Hoberman Arch. Other Olympic sports venues are in or near Park City, Kearns, and Heber City. World-class ski and summer resorts close by include Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, Solitude, Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley where activities range from horseback riding and mountain biking to hot air balloon rides and river rafting.

   Just across the street to the south of Temple Square is the City Creek Center Shopping Plaza. It includes many high-end stores, restaurants, and office and residential space. A few blocks to the east is Trolley Square, an indoor/outdoor mall with shops, restaurants and a movie theater. Of special interest to book lovers is Sam Wellers book store that specializes in new and used books and music. Also to the west of city center is The Gateway shopping mall.

Family Options
   Other activities to explore include the Clark Planetarium, Hogle Zoo, Lagoon Amusement Park, and the Great Salt Lake. Of special interest to train buffs is the Golden Spike National Historic Site, where in 1869 the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed at Promontory Summit on the north side of Salt Lake City.