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Convention in Southern California

Cynthia Ellis | July August 2010

    I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to all flutists wishing to attend the 38th-annual National Flute Association Annual Convention August 12-15 at the Marriott Hotel in Anaheim, California. The very first NFA convention took place in Anaheim in 1973, and we return to the same city for another gathering of flutists from around the world.

    This year’s theme, Illuminating Tradition, pays homage to our heritage as an organization that serves to inspire, enrich, and educate flute players. We look forward to honoring the traditions of our rich musical legacy, as well as igniting newfound enthusiasm and passion for the flute. 
    Artists from Asia, Mexico, Europe, and America will  perform in what will be an exhilarating, informative, exciting, and, yes, exhausting four days. California summer daytime temperatures can range into the 80s and 90s, so pack in layers for chilly hotel ballrooms and beautiful, balmy California evenings.

New NFA Committees

    Two new committees present this August for the first time. The Low Flutes Committee, chaired by Chris Potter, presents a full recital “Voices From the Deep” on Thursday morning, showcasing the versatility and virtuosity of all low flutes. Chamber, solo, and large-ensemble works are featured, including a premiere by Alexandra Baldwin. Also, there is Saturday afternoon workshop about alto/bass flute basics lead by Potter and Robert Dick.
    The Career and Artistic Development Committee led by Laura Barron announces its first “Think Like an Entrepreneur” mini-conference. Comprised of four career-related workshops, this event is designed to help flutists bring their wildest project ideas to fruition.  The committee, which includes Stephanie Jutt, Alberto Almarza, Eva Amsler, and Jill Felber, will select 24 flutists to participate in the workshops, during which they will be able to flesh out their concepts and begin project planning.
    Interested flutists should send their project proposals (500-word maximum) to committee chair, Laura Barron: by July 1. Additional auditors are welcome to attend any of the workshops. There are no application or participation fees, though all participants and auditors must be registered convention attendees. The CAD workshops are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, 8:00-10:00 am.

Kids Kamp
    Kids Kamp is a half-day event designed for young flutists ages 8 to 13, an age group that has not received much special programming in the past. Carol Wincenc presents a unique program for the Kids Kampers, to be followed by a hands-on reading session of simple, entertaining music under the baton of Barbara Ogar.
    Kids Kampers may also attend any open convention sessions, including the exhibits. There is no preregistration for this event. Fees for Kids Kamp are $20 per person, and you can register at the door on Saturday, August 14, beginning at noon.

For the Teachers
    The Pedagogy Committee presents its inaugural Pedagogy Breakfast on Saturday morning, with guest speaker Tadeu Coelho. Watch for details on what is hoped to become an annual tradition. If eating and discussing flute are two of your favorite things, be sure to attend the Flute Lover’s Lunch with James Walker as the featured speaker.
    On Saturday morning The Historic Flutes Committee presents an open Baroque Flute Masterclass led by Greer Ellison, the early flutes professor at the University of California-Santa Cruz, who will also present a recital assisted by flutist Wendy Rolfe and harpsichordist Jung Hae Kim. A lecture on Baroque style takes place on Sunday.

Jazz Highlights

    Jazz gets its groove on this year with Nicole Mitchell performing on Friday for the first of two cabaret nights. Mitchell placed first as Downbeat magazine’s Rising Star Flutist 2005–2009, was awarded Jazz Flutist of the Year 2008 by the Jazz Journalist Association, and was named Chicagoan of the Year 2006 by Chicago magazine. Nancy Stagnitta performs on the Saturday night cabaret, and Ali Ryerson presents a Friday session on jazz flute practice techniques. She also hosts an open jazz flute reading session on Saturday. Bring your flute and join the fun!

Special Celebrations
    We celebrate the 70th birthday of notable flutist and composer Robert Aitken on Friday with a recital dedicated to his compositions, including a work for flute ensemble. Robert Dick will perform some of his most well-known compositions in his own unique style on his glissando headjoint, and Steve Kujala teaches  his fretless flute techniques. If you want to learn to beatbox, you can attend Greg Pattillo’s Saturday masterclass on and hear his Project Trio ensemble on Thursday evening. There is also a concert featuring electro-acoustic flute music and electronic music entitled New Directions that takes place Saturday 12:00-1:30 pm.

Piccolo Events
    A concert of flashy miniatures for piccolo and band takes place Thursday morning. The California State University Wind Symphony directed by of Mitch Fennell accompanies Sarah Jackson from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Walfrid Kujala, retired from the Chicago Symphony, Nan Raphael, Linda Toote, Lois Herbine, and Peter Verhoyen in piccolo pieces designed to thrill.
     On Friday Lois Herbine, Nicole Esposito, and Verhoyen play a recital of piccolo and piano works, and Jan Gippo, Madera Winds, Maria Ramey, and Debora Harris perform Music
for Flutes, Piccolo and Unlikely Partners. Sunday is the day for Sarah Jackson’s piccolo masterclass, which is open to all.

Masterclasses & Competitions
    Masterclass teachers include Sarah Jackson, piccolo, and Cathy Ransom-Karoly, orchestral excerpts, as well as Amy Porter and Michael Faust. The competitions this year include the Young Artist, Piccolo Artist, High School Flute Soloist, Convention Performers, Orchestral Audition, and Solo Performers competitions – all popular events and NFA traditions.

Major Concert Events
    The Gala Concerto night features Cathy Ransom-Karoly of the Los Angeles Philharmonic performing the Reinecke concerto, piccoloist Jan Gippo performing an Eric Ewazen premiere commission, Michael Faust performing a concerto by Vasks, and Carol Wincenc enchanting us with a special premiere. You can also hear Marianne Gedigian perform works by Moquet, Gaubert, and Poulenc on Friday in the Grand Ballroom.
    Headliner Recitals feature Amy Porter, Nobutaka Shimizu, Miguel Angel Villanueva, James Walker, and Demarre McGill, and the Thursday night Gala Concert features Suzanne Teng and her world music group Mystic Journey, the Matt Eakle Band (a groovy blues flute lead band that will rock the house), and Project Trio.

Lifetime Achievement Awards
    Winners Fenwick Smith and Leone Buyse perform the 8 p.m. Friday Gala Concert, the second half of which is a tribute to their teaching by several of their former students, including Marianne Gedegian, Ebonee Thomas, Hilary Abigana, Li-Ming Chen, and Kristin Eade. The Lifetime Achievement Awards Banquet itself takes place Saturday evening, so don’t forget to sign up for the opportunity to honor them and enjoy a fine meal as well.

Flute Choir Events
    This will be another banner year for flute choirs at the national convention! The Illumina­tions Flute Orchestra starts the convention off under the direction of Wendy Kumer. This large flute orchestra is open to all convention participants and provides a wonderful opportunity to play great music alongside old and new friends. You can sign up when you register for the convention.
    You are also invited to bring flutes and music stands to Flute Choir Reading Sessions. These sessions feature repertoire ranging from old favorites to the latest publications hot off the press.
    The High School Flute Choir is conducted by John Bailey, John Barcellona directs the Collegiate Flute Choir (the NFA’s newest competition choir), and Steven Byess conduct the Professional Flute Choir. Flute choirs from across the U.S. and abroad are featured daily in lobby concerts at lunch time and before evening gala concerts, and there are Flute Choir Showcases as well. The competition choirs perform on Sunday.

College Credit Available
    For the first time ever, professional development credit is available through the Extended Education Department at California State. Separate paperwork is available should you want to earn one unit of credit (15 hours participation required); the cost is $100 for the unit. An outcomes paper is required for course verification. Specific details about this, including the registration form, are on the web site (, will be in the Flutist Quarterly summer journal, and will also be available at the convention.

All the Rest

    Flute music from Asia takes a spotlight this year with the Kiramiki Flute Ensemble from Japan, as well as two artists featured in a shared recital of Japanese and Taiwanese influences in western music: Tzu-Ying (Jennie Lin) and Ai Goldsmith. Lectures include an informative session on conducting techniques for flute choir leaders led by Carlo Jans, who conducted the professional flute choir in New York City last year. Informative panel sessions from the Performance Health Care Committee and the Pedagogy Committee abound. Yoga will be highlighted in a Floga session for flutists. Feldenkrais and body movement seminars are also included.
    In addition to all of these marvelous activities, the exhibit hall will be open daily with a stunning display of instruments from all major manufacturers, music, accessories, and all sorts of flute related items. We have scheduled one hour a day free from concerts and presentations to be devoted to shopping for your flute.

Southern California

    The convention takes place literally blocks from Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure theme parks; they have offered special discounted rates to the park to NFA members, so bring the family with you for an extended vacation.
     If you plan to spend extra time in Anaheim, there are beautiful beaches nearby, as well as high-end shopping within easy driving distance. South Coast Plaza, The Block in Orange, Newport Fashion Island, and Santa Ana’s Main Place are among the dozens of shopping malls within 20 minutes of the convention site.
    Museums and concert halls abound including the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and Disney Hall to name just a few. If you are a fan of Hollywood, it is just a short 35-mile drive north of Anaheim.
    Southern California is blessed by natural beauty. The beaches are fabulous, and if you favor mountains, you can drive from Big Bear in the morning to local beaches by nightfall.
I hope that you will join me in sunny Southern California for four thrilling days of memorable music making and learning. Bring along your sunscreen, an open mind, a sense of humor, and have a wonderful adventure with us here in Orange County.

For more about activities and the hotel, go to