The First Canadian Flute Convention

The Professional Flute Choir of the Canadian Flute Convention
The Professional Flute Choir of the Canadian Flute Convention. Photo courtesy of Ron Korb.

As someone who used to spend a lot of time with an arts administrator hat on, I can confidently say that that process of organizing a concert can occasionally be a hell-on-earth experience. Those sundry details that, as performers, we often take for granted are suddenly (and sometimes quite painfully) your concern: is the lighting sufficient? Are there enough stands and chairs? Did I buy insurance? Did I make a press release? Did I submit the comp list? Did I make a Facebook event page? Oh my God, will people show up?

This sort of inner psychobabble is what typically runs through my head in the weeks, days, and hours leading up to a performance event that I’m helping organize (it is, I’m quite sure, the reason why I have a bald spot the size of a helicopter landing pad on the back of my head). But to create an entire convention, where there are literally dozens of concerts, masterclasses, and lectures going on (often concurrently), as well as hundreds of mouths to feed… well, this is a feat of superhuman proportions. So I’m very, very grateful to the folks at the Canadian Flute Association for taking the bull by the horns and creating the first ever Canadian Flute Convention in Oakville, Ontario, this past weekend.

I was honoured to participate in this event as both flutist and conductor. On Saturday, July 29th I conducted the Professional Flute Choir, giving the Ontario premieres of two Canadian works commissioned by the Tempest Flute Ensemble: Dectet (2005) by Christopher Kovarik and coruscating (2008) by Gregory Lee Newsome. It was a wonderful thing to be able to hear these pieces come to life again and an incredible opportunity to both meet new flutists as well as reconnect with old friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in years (Mary!).

The next day I had a flute back in my hands to present a short recital of solo pieces by Canadian composers. Three of these were works that were either written for me or commissioned by me: Apogee (2005) by Farshid Samandari; Wrath (2010) by Dorothy Chang; and invidere (2010) by James Beckwith Maxwell. In addition to these I presented two pieces that were recent discoveries: Surface (2010) by the Toronto-based composer Brian Harman and Lachrymose (2006) for solo piccolo by Derek Charke. It was especially wonderful (and slightly intimidating!) to have my own concert nestled between recitals by Kathleen Rudolph and Sarah Jackson — both former teachers of mine, as well as inspiring, ass-kicking musicians.

Other highlights of the Convention included an achingly beautiful concert given by the Canadian master Robert Aitken, a fascinating recital of music by female composers by Laurel Swinden, and late night performances by Ron Korb and the Japan-based Magnum Trio (seriously, these guys are completely insane). Hats off to Samantha Chang for pulling off this amazing event!

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