2012 in Review

IMG_0628[1]This is a little delayed, perhaps, but it’s time for a bit of perspective on the events of last year. As I went back and read through my summary of 2011, I can’t help but be reminded of how incredibly, insanely different this January is compared to last January.

Last January, I wrote my end-of-year summary while enjoying a vacation overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This January, I live over 1500 miles away from that beach and hope to see it again some time this year. Some of my goals last year were to get a full-time music gig, find a vintage Powell flute, present and perform at flute conventions, continue writing, and collaborate on more musical performances. I’m thrilled that so much of that was accomplished in 2012.

In my quest to obtain a full-time, tenure-track faculty position, I ended up going on two interviews last year. The second was successful, and I am quite happily the newest Assistant Professor of Music at South Dakota State University. My job is a blast. I’m happy to go to work every day, my colleagues are fun to be around, and I hit the lottery with my students. I’ve said this before, but the midwestern work ethic is alive and well in South Dakota.  My workload includes world music, woodwind pedagogy, music history, and applied flute. We’re starting a flute choir this semester, which I’m pretty excited about.

During the first half of last year, I was on faculty at University of South Carolina Aiken and Newberry College. There I was teaching Theory II, Theory IV, form and analysis, world music, applied flute, flute studio, and flute ensemble. It was a heavy load, but I really enjoyed being about to spend some time with theory. And it was sad to leave the flute students I had spent several years with but I know they will continue to work hard and do well.

I managed to attend and perform (or present) at several flute conventions last year, including the Kentucky Flute Festival, the Atlanta Flute Fair, the South Carolina Flute Society event, and the British Flute Society. I presented various workshops on efficient practice and the flute music of Joan Tower, performed with Ian Clarke and on a flute choir piece for the SCFS, and judged the adult amateur competition of the BFS. It was great to be able to see colleagues and friends and hear amazing players. Some performer highlights were Walfrid Kujala, Ian Clarke, Christina Smith, and so many amazing British flutists at the BFS event. I also attended some great masterclasses throughout the year with Keith Underwood, Patricia George, and the Imani Winds. Hearing players at this level is always a much-needed inspiration.

One of my goals last year was to be involved in more musical collaborations. I felt like that was something that I neglected to do in 2011, probably because my teaching schedule was too heavy. My first big collaboration of 2012 was a benefit concert for the March of Dimes. The music students at Newberry College put together a nice program, and we ended up raising over $700 for the local chapter. I hope to be able to make this an annual fundraising event. Other collaborations included several works with my new colleagues at SDSU, including Nate Jorgensen, Emily Toronto, and Mike Walsh. It was a great way to jump in and play some chamber music repertoire I haven’t played before. I was also invited to be guest artist by Heidi Alvarez at Western Kentucky University, where I joined several of the faculty members in performing music by my Twitter-friend Michael Kallstrom. Heidi is a great flutist and teacher, and I enjoyed working with her and her students.

Miscellaneous things: I recorded the soundtrack for a short animation at Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta; bought a vintage Powell flute; enjoyed soaking up the country music culture in Nashville; moved across the country; got a quick introduction to Native American culture from an expert at SDSU, which I could use for my world music class; got to know the state of South Dakota through numerous recruiting trips; watched the marching band participate in the 100th Hobo Day parade at SDSU; and drove through an actual blizzard to play in a concert. This year included trips to (or through) twelve states and two countries. Good thing I like travelling!

So what’s the plan for 2013? Basically, keep going. Collaborate as much as possible, recruit amazing flute students, teach, write, travel. I’ve also found myself playing more and more new music as the years go by. I commissioned a work last year by Rob Cronin and had another dedicated to me by Rob Steadman, and I’m looking forward to performing those this year. Working with composers is pretty great, and I’m looking forward to more of that this year.

As always, I’m interested in collaborations. If you want to work together, contact me! Email or Twitter @TammyEvansYonce.

British Flute Society Convention Recap

This year, I was very fortunate to attend the convention of the British Flute Society. It was held at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. Overall, it was very well-organized, and I found the people I met there to be very friendly and welcoming.

The entire event was spread over four days, and included multiple events running concurrently from morning until late in the evening. Obviously, I couldn’t attend each event because of this (and a seriously bad case of jet lag that I never got over while there). Since the amount of information I encountered there was almost overwhelming, I’m organizing this recap in bullet points.

–          The opening recital with Michael Cox  was pure showmanship. What a fantastic performance, especially the Piazzolla etude.

–          A very interesting presentation was given by fellow American Dr. Christine Beard, Associate Professor of Flute at University of Nebraska – Omaha. She spoke about a work for flute by Philip Glass called Piece in the Shape of a Square for two flutes. She gave a historical background, a formal analysis, and discussed issues that prevented it from being a true retrograde form.

–          Niall O’Riordan gave workshops throughout the convention about the flutist’s well-being. Based largely on the Feldenkrais method, these workshops were really excellent in getting me much more relaxed and aware of how I was holding my body. Being relatively familiar with (and a fan of) the Alexander Technique, these sessions resonated with me, and I’m trying to figure how to incorporate their ideas more seamlessly in my daily practice.

–          My favorite way to start a Saturday: electroacoustic music for flute, elaborate setup, and composer/engineer (to work said elaborate setup). These musicians, Myrto Korkokiou and Apostolos Loufopoulos, are from Greece and have been collaborating since 2000.

–          A “new faces” recital highlighted Stephen Clark and Áine Lambert. They performed works by J.S. Bach and Tchaikovsky.

–          I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be one of the judges of the Adult Amateur Competition. We heard ten flutists, the only limitations being that they were above the age of 25. Fellow judges included Dr. Rebecca Johnson, Instructor of Flute at Eastern Illinois University, and Stephen Clark, who teaches and performs throughout the UK. The level of playing was quite high, and we were all very impressed with the performers. It was also helpful that we had a very compatible judging style; while it was difficult to choose the winners, we did unanimously agree.

–          Next was a highly-informative lecture on vibrato by Dr. Leonard Garrison, Associate Professor of Flute at the University of Idaho. He described how vibrato differs from one player to the next, and gave detailed measurements of many players. The amount of information presented was impressive, and it was clearly a well-researched subject by Dr. Garrison.

–          I also enjoyed a session with Wissam Boustany, who has really become an inspiration to me over the past year or so. After making his acquaintance in Atlanta earlier this year, I have become more in tune with what he is doing and how he approaches music-making. He discussed commissioning new music, which is a subject I’m involved with at the moment. He’s a very strong player with compelling musical ideas, and I was glad to be able to hear him at this event.

–          Michael Oliva, a composer who often writes for electronics and woodwinds, gave a workshop about electronic music. He detailed equipment, including logistics of how the equipment is actually used during performance, and gave examples of several works.

–          Ian Clarke gave a fantastic recital on Saturday evening. He’s such a solid player, and I’m a huge fan of his music. It’s inventive and fresh without trying too hard or being difficult for the sake of being difficult. I find him to be an inspirational player who always gets me energized about performance.

–          Sunday began with an Ian Clarke masterclass. Much of this information wasn’t new to me since he had visited Atlanta for the Atlanta Flute Club’s last convention, but it was still fun to hear new people playing in the class. (The level of playing was very high across the board at this convention.)

–          I enjoyed speaking with the Powell Flutes folks and trying out the new piccolo.

–          Trevor Wye gave an entertaining workshop. It was more of a performance, really. He made flutes out of vegetables, connected flutes to various types of lights, made flutes out of surprising and non-traditional materials, and generally had the audience fairly stunned for most of the presentation.

–          William Bennett’s recital was, of course, excellent to hear. He gave a premiere of a work by David Heath, and also gave performances of works by Mel Bonis, Clifford Benson, Villa-Lobos, and Doppler.

–          Matthias Ziegler gave a great workshop about extended techniques. It was more of an introductory class, but he taught the techniques while also including elements of improvisation, which gave me some ideas for my own teaching.

–          Finally, my new friend Dr. Rebecca Johnson and I gave lectures on “The Flute in Research.” We both presented research based on our dissertations: Rebecca’s on the music of Thea Musgrave, and mine on the music of Joan Tower.

–          To end the event, there was an amusing concert of opera music with Trevor Wye, William Bennett, and Edward Blakeman. It was, shall we say, very British. There were lots of costumes involved.

–          Overall, it was a fantastic event. Major props go to Carla Rees, the organizer of the entire event, and the rest of the British Flute Society board and other volunteers. If you haven’t heard about Carla, she was a victim of the riots that took place in London last August. She is still trying to get things sorted out, but you would never know that she was dealing with such a terrible situation from the way the convention ran like clockwork. If you want to help Carla financially, Just Flutes has set up a fund.

–          Other fun things about Manchester: I checked out the Manchester Museum at the University of Manchester, walked around town a lot, found a nice park for lunch most days, found a nice food truck, and had a great time soaking up the city. It was an excellent end to a very busy summer.

Atlanta Flute Fair

The Atlanta Flute Fair was held on Saturday, 25 February 2012 at Georgia Perimeter College in metropolitan Atlanta. We were fortunate enough to have Ian Clarke as our guest artist; he had just come from the Mid-Atlantic Flute Fair the week before. I knew some of his music after Zoom Tube was used by the National Flute Association for the 2006 Young Artist Competition but had never heard him play.

New to the Atlanta Flute Fair this year was a series of workshops. We had three great presentations this year on various editions of Mozart, alternate and sensitive fingerings, and career development. Next year, I hope to expand this portion of the event to include more workshops. (Keep an eye out for our Call for Proposals for 2013!)

We had a large number of vendors in the exhibit hall this year, and we were also treated to a short concert by the New York-based flute duo Flutronix in the hall. Unfortunately, I had to do a bunch of running around and couldn’t spend as much time in the exhibit hall as I would have liked, but it was good to see a lot of familiar faces there.

There were a number of performances this year. The annual Young Artist Competition featured three excellent finalists: Brittney Balkcom, Daniela Volkovinsky, and Thomas Wible. We also heard a recital given by last year’s Young Artist winner, David Graham. Our new competition, the Junior Artist, included a short recital as its prize, so we heard a very nice performance by Claire Della Mahon. The main performance of the day was given by Ian Clarke. His program consisted of his works with the exception of one Stockhausen piece, Xi. The program was quite varied, including older and newer works. There was also a contrast in the mood of the works, which ranged from serious to light. The entire program:

The Great Train Race
Orange Dawn
Xi – Karlheinz Stockhausen
Hatching Aliens (II. Alien Chill Out/Blue Alien)
Touching the Ether
The Mad Hatter
One of the highlights of the day was the workshop led by Ian Clarke. He took us through a very quick introduction to various extended techniques that are called for in his works. This included alternate fingerings, microtones, percussive articulation, singing and playing, jet whistle, and multiphonics. The most important idea that struck me was how he approached ideas that may be new or intimidating. Instead of reacting  with anxiety, he reacted by saying, “Good!” and by getting excited. He explained that it is an opportunity to learn something new and it might not be something you will master immediately, but the idea has been introduced and can grow from there. The more difficult or advanced the technique was, the more “exciting” is was. I think this is a fundamentally different way to look at technical difficulties, and what a paradigm shift it is! I frequently encounter extended techniques but still felt a noticeable difference in my approach to reading complex musical notation during the workshop when I thought of it as an opportunity instead of a challenge.

Ian Clarke also gave a masterclass, and two of the participants played Orange Dawn, which is another of his compositions. Since I’m unfamiliar with the work, it was particularly useful to get some perspective from the composer himself.

The next day, I enjoyed a nice chat with Ian as I drove him to the Atlanta airport. (My daughter compared his accent to those she has heard on one of her favorite shows, Keeping Up Appearances.) We have a teacher in common, Kate Lukas, so that was a fun connection to make. And I was left with a book recommendation: The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist.

Overall, it was an excellent day. It was great to make some new flute friends and meet up with colleagues. And I can’t say enough good stuff about Ian Clarke. He’s a class act – very genuine, a fantastic player, a composer with a distinct voice, and an effective teacher. He’s quite an asset to the flute community, and I encourage you to check him out if you aren’t already familiar with his work.

Atlanta Flute Club stuff

This year, I have the opportunity to serve as President of the Atlanta Flute Club. The responsibilities that go along with each of the activities we sponsor are fairly well-determined, as the same dedicated folks have streamlined the process over several years. This makes my job somewhat easier, so I can focus on other things concerning the club.

It’s really interesting for me to be involved with the Board of Directors of this group because I was fortunate enough to win their Young Artist Competition as a graduate studnet at Indiana University. It was really nice to be able to come back home during my time at IU and still be involved with so many great Atlanta flutists during the competition and then when I returned to give a solo recital during our convention the next year.

Years later, my focus has changed. No longer am I feeling the stress of practicing for and then making a competition recording I can be happy with. My main focus now as President is to make sure that we, as a flute club, are reaching as many flutists as possible. I want to ensure that we have quality programs that appeal to beginners, more advanced students, players in college, graduate students, amateurs, and professionals. I also want to make sure we reach performers as well as those who may be engaging in research involving the flute. I’m convinced that a thriving supportive community of flutists just can’t be wrong.

Any suggestions for Atlanta Flute Club events? Workshops that you’d love to see us host in the Atlanta area? Flutists who you’d like to see give a recital here? I’m always eager to hear your comments and suggestions.

Also make sure you check out our website and Facebook page to keep up with our latest news. We’ve got great stuff going on this year, including (but not limited to) a new competition, our annual Young Artist Competition, opportunities to present workshops, and Ian Clarke as our Flute Fair guest artist!