New Piece

IMG_0769[1]I’m really looking forward to performing a brand new work for glissando flute and piano by John Griffin. We first met at the National Flute Association Convention in New Orleans in 2013, where I performed another work using the glissando headjoint. We got the details for a new work ironed out, tweaked it a bit when we saw each other at the regional College Music Society conference in Fargo in 2014, and now it’s ready to be practiced. It was great to work with John, and I’m looking forward to giving the premiere of this work during the fall of this year.

Recent Collaborations

One of the best parts of my job is the opportunity to collaborate with all types of musicians on different projects. Recently, I’ve had the good fortune to work with players here on my home campus, in the community, and in the region.

My first collaboration this academic year was with my dear friends from Western Kentucky University. Composer and bass singer Michael Kallstrom, flutist Heidi Alvarez, and pianist Don Speer visited South Dakota State University; I enjoyed performing and spending some time with them. We gave a recital of works by Michael for various combinations of flutes, piano, bass voice, and electronics. One of those works was a world premiere, which is always a fun experience. These are some of my favorite people to make music with, and I hope to work with them again very soon.

I performed in a faculty trio several times so far this semester, and it reminded me how fortunate I am to be here on the faculty of SDSU. Mike Walsh, Nate Jorgensen, and I worked on the Divertissement by Aubert Lemeland, and we presented it at an SDSU event and on both Mike’s and Nate’s faculty recitals. They are really sensitive musicians, and working with them is a treat.

In September, I gave a benefit recital for the South Dakota chapter of the March of Dimes. I worked with pianist Mary Walker, on faculty at SDSU, who is a talented collaborator. We were able to get off-campus and give a performance in the community, spread awareness of the mission of the March of Dimes, and raise a little bit of money for them. This is the second year I have been able to make some small contribution to the important work of this organization since the premature births and deaths of my niece and nephew, and it is my intention to regularly give recitals to benefit the March of Dimes.

I gave a couple of recitals and flute masterclasses to students at University of Wisconsin-Stout and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in October. I was able to reconnect with a classmate from my DMA studies at University of Georgia, Dr. Aaron Durst, who is Director of Instrumental Music at UW-Stout. I also had the good fortune of meeting the flute professor at UW-Eau Claire, Dr. Tim Lane. I had a great time working with high school and college students in Wisconsin and enjoyed presenting two different recital programs on that trip. I particularly enjoyed collaborating with Aaron Durst on a couple of works for flute and saxophone; one work was written by a professor at University of Georgia, Dr. Roger Vogel, which was a fun connection to make.

I performed with a student on his junior recital here at SDSU. I’m perfectly happy to work with students on their performances because I think it’s an important part of the learning process, and it’s an honor to be asked.

I’m looking forward to one more performance this semester. I’ll be performing at North Dakota State University with Jenny Poehls, who is the flute instructor there. We are working a program of flute duets and works for two flutes and piano. It includes some traditional flute repertoire as well as some contemporary pieces. It has been nice to work with a flutist who is relatively nearby on an ambitious program. I’m also looking forward to giving a flute masterclass while I’m there. We’ll be presenting the same recital here at SDSU at a later date.

December should be a nice break, and then I’m excited to start another series of performances starting in January. If you’re interested in collaborating, let’s talk!


Recital Preparation


Preparing for a recital can be a daunting process. If you’ve ever given a recital before, you’ve discovered that there’s more to the process than just learning the music. You often collaborate with a pianist or other chamber music partners. You perform in a space that might differ significantly from your usual practice room, acoustically speaking. You perform in formal attire as opposed to your usual clothes. And let’s not underestimate the effect that nerves and adrenaline have on a performance. So what do you do? Here are some ideas.

–          Technical work. As you get closer to the date and the music starts coming together, there might still be some technical spots that continue to give you trouble. As reassuring as it is to keep practicing the music that you *can* play, it’s a smarter idea to focus most of your available practice time on working out the tricky spots.

–          Recordings. Listening to recordings is incredibly helpful. They can quickly clarify questions that you might have about interpretation or ensemble. On the other hand, they might also be a good indication of what you *don’t* want to do. Either way, listening to a variety of recordings is a valuable investment of time when preparing for a recital.

–          The importance of rehearsals can’t be overstated. No matter how easy the coordination between the different parts of a work may seem, there are always those quirky mistakes that can spring up unexpectedly. If you’ve spent a reasonable amount of time in rehearsal, you should be able to minimize those unfortunate mistakes. Write in cues for music in the other parts that you seem to always notice. Even if the performance is going perfectly well, those aural reassurances might be just what you need to set your mind at ease.

–          Try to practice in the recital hall as much as possible. In larger venues, this isn’t always possible since they tend to be booked up all the time. You can still talk to people who have played in the space before. Is it a live space? Muffled? Hard to hear your chamber music partners? Do there always seem to be balance problems? Get as much information as possible before your dress rehearsal and performance.

–          Do some practice run-throughs in your formal clothing. For guys, this probably isn’t such a huge change, but for ladies, this can be a major adjustment. Think about the temperature in the hall. Do you want to wear something sleeveless, or will you be shivering? If you’re wearing a dress, make sure it isn’t too long; you don’t want to trip over the hem on your way across the stage. And don’t forget to think about your shoes! If you tend to stick to flats most of the time, this might not be the time to try out those 4-inch stilettos, no matter how good they look. It’s a good idea to practice in the shoes you intend to wear for the performance itself.

–          I’m a big believer in practicing in small sections. As far as learning technical material, it’s really the most efficient way, even though it requires more focused practice. However, the experience of giving a performance is completely different from working in these small chunks. As your recital date approaches, it’s a really good idea to start playing through your entire program. A couple of weeks before is usually a good time to try this because your technique should be solid and you should be quite familiar with the music. If you can’t make it all the way through, that’s ok. You still have a couple of weeks to build up endurance. Keep trying to make run-throughs of your recital program and try to get a little further in it each time.

–          Basically, preparation is the key to a successful performance. Trying to visualize all aspects of the performance from the actual music to the performance space to your clothing will help you pull off a polished, solid recital.