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Dave Valentin was a pioneer of the jazz flute and passed away on March 8, 2017, but his musical legacy in both the jazz world and the flute world will live on. We collected memories and stories from flutists who were influenced and inspired by Dave and his music. Thank you to all who contributed to this tribute. In Loving Memory of Dave Valentin What I will always remember about Dave Valentin beyond his joyful musicality will be kindness, enthusiasm and a ridiculous sense of humor. I’m thinking back on one of the several times I heard him perform live. On this night at Los Angeles’ wonderful Jazz Bakery there were two sets. Since the second set had a little space, those audience members who had heard the first were invited to stay. Of course I stayed, and I remember laughing my head off even as Dave made the same exact jokes on both sets, with equal candor, silly delivery and vigor. The thought brings a smile to my face immediately. I loved the way he directed his outstanding band with large gestures that were at once playful and musical. He hilariously danced around even in between phrases of the melody, leaving the entire audience in stiches. Speaking to him after concerts, Dave always was kind and encouraging. I always left those concerts with a strong impression of Valentin’s contagious enthusiasm for music, and joy for life. Dave Valentin’s playing always bore the core of his beginnings as a percussionist. He was the son of Puerto Ricans, born in New York City who began music at an early age and was already playing percussion gigs at clubs by the age of twelve. He learned flute in his late teens, to impress a girl, going on to study with the great flutist Hubert Laws. The percussiveness of Valentin’s flute playing is undeniable. His tone was dynamic and expressive, ranging from gorgeous and lush to raspy percussive to a clean, full, yet hollow tone that he laid perfectly into the mix of Jazz and Latin Jazz. His solos were often long and built up, and full of rhythmic intricacies grounded in his knowledge of Puerto Rican and Cuban music. Aside from his virtuosic flute playing, Dave Valentin was a pioneer in mixing Jazz and Latin music, creating new hybrid styles. Dave Valentin passed away on March 8th this year. His funeral reportedly included a gathering of the entire Puerto Rican community of New York. He will be greatly missed. We thank him for a legacy of innovation, showmanship and musicality that delighted audience members, and thank him for leaving a rich discography for us to enjoy even though his body has left this world. He was greatly loved and will be remembered. ~ Rebecca Kleinmann Dave Valentin was perhaps the most rhythmic jazz flute player I had ever heard. He was able to bring a raw physicality to his playing that made his flute an extension of his body, which was always in motion. This made total sense, insofar as he was a percussionist before he switched to flute. No doubt his conga playing stood him in good stead, as it seemed like he was literally approaching the flute as a percussion instrument. Of course, he played with a prodigious technique and...read more
The Flute View Young Artist Competition is open to young flutists who are under the age of 22 (ages 15-22) by June 1, 2017. Each applicant must be a current subscriber to The Flute View Magazine. Prizes: Altus Handmade Flutes 1st Prize $1,000 Wm. S. Haynes Co. 2nd Prize $500 2t Flute Academy 3rd Prize $250 Galway Flute Academy including a Skype lesson with Sir James Galway, Audience Favorite Prize $250 (based on number of YouTube Video views) Repertoire: 1) Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata in E minor movements 1 & 2 2) Katherine Hoover: Mountain and Mesa (pick one movement) 3) Contrasting piece of your choice (if the piece has multiple movements, pick one movement) Application Deadline is May 1st, 2017 at 11:59pm. Please upload your videos and title them The Flute View 2017 Young Artist Competition. Each piece must be played in its entirety without edits. Works may be performed accompanied or unaccompanied. Please submit an email to email@example.com and include 1) your name, 2) age, 3) two to three sentence bio and 4) the links to your YouTube submissions. A $50 USD application fee (thru April 1st) or $75 USD application fee (thru May 1st) must be paid using the Paypal button below to be considered in the competition. Each applicant must be a current subscriber to The Flute View Magazine. Good Luck! $75 Application Fee thru May 1st Download printable PDF here: The Flute View Young Artist Competition 2017 PDF...read more
At this year’s Iowa Flute Festival, I took on a challenge given to me by flute professor and festival chair Nicole Esposito, to play flute and organ simultaneously! This is something I had tried many years ago at Flutes by the Sea, but I never had the chance to perform it. Since the University of Iowa had just gotten an amazing new organ in their new recital hall, this was the perfect opportunity for me to present this unique feat (pun intended). We even commissioned composer Joseph Hallman to write a piece specifically for this combination of flute and organ pedals, premiering at the concert. I also performed J.S. Bach’s e minor Sonata with the continuo part played on my feet. I am not an organist nor would I ever call myself one. I am a classically trained pianist, but I taught myself organ after playing church gigs where I was required to play organ. I was always quite intimidated by the pedals, but I faked it quite well at the various church gigs I had. Most of the time, I never actually played the pedals, because if one note is wrong, it can sound pretty bad. I haven’t had an organ gig for quite a few years, so I knew putting this together would take some work. Little did I know that the most difficult part would be finding a church that would let me practice. I spent at least a week walking into random churches asking to speak to their music director, explaining that I needed to practice flute and organ somewhere, only to be given odd looks by the church staff. Emails and phone calls to churches that never got returned, I was getting a little nervous as the concert was one month away. Luckily, a friend of a friend taught flute to a church music director’s daughter, and they agreed to let me practice a few times, 4 times to be exact. I have been asked, how did I even start practicing something like this? The answer is, just like the flute! I practiced both instruments individually, with scales and intervals that I made up for the organ pedals, similar to our Taffanel and Gaubert, just to get familiar with the pedals and get the feet moving. Then I played the scales and intervals with flute and organ together, so I could get a feel for the coordination. Then, just lots of very slow practice with a metronome. Sounds easy, right? Not quite. I realized I needed to memorize the foot positions, otherwise, I was prone to playing the pedal parts on my flute because I had to think so fast. Many organists have been commenting on my bare feet. I am well aware that it is improper technique, but it gave me feet better traction on the pedals, so that is why I decided to play bare feet! Plus, I just like playing barefoot in general these days. This is definitely a novelty act, and I am already planning the next repertoire and performance. To be continued......read more
“Going into the classical music profession is difficult. There aren’t enough jobs. Audiences are dwindling. It’s hard to make money. It’s not like it used to be.” Sound familiar? As classical musicians, we encounter these statements frequently and yet we continue to study, love, appreciate, and live our music. Why? Because we are hardworking, driven, passionate, and willing to do whatever it takes to have a sustainable career making music. These are all of the personal qualities it takes to “make it” after graduation. As students in music school, we face a lot anxieties about “what’s next;” what lies in front of us after getting the degree is intimidating and downright scary. Throughout our early lives, a plan is perfectly laid out for us. Go to kindergarten and learn colors, numbers, and letters. Go to the next grade and next school. Get braces. Take dance lessons. Get good grades. Excel. Make All-State band. Play in the youth symphony. Go to college. Practice a lot. Learn how to be an artist, a scholar, an educator, and a well-rounded person. But what happens after graduation? There is no real plan laid out for us, and that is what makes life after graduation scary…the unknown. Traditionally, music graduates have gravitated towards three career paths: playing in an orchestra, teaching at a college or university, or teaching in public schools. These are all excellent options that provide stability, a mostly regular work schedule, benefits, and a retirement plan. The stability of these jobs is why we like them. They are reliable and are ready-made just like our path through education. Despite many folks’ opinions that these paths are no longer attainable or too difficult to achieve, it is essential to follow your dreams no matter what and be armed with the know-how and skills required to make a living in music in the time between graduation and reaching your dream. We are experiencing an exciting time in classical music. All of the negatives at the beginning of this article are only one way to view what is occurring in our field. Another way to look at the current climate is to see it as one of opportunity. As we learned in music history classes, great change is not brought about by things staying the same. Great change is brought about by evolving ideas, new directions, new inspirations, and necessity. We find ourselves living in a time where classical music is experiencing rapid evolution and the definition of “making it” is changing. How will all of this help you after graduation? Most recent music school graduates will not land their dream job the month or year after obtaining the diploma. In fact, it could be two years, three years, ten years, or more. So, what do you do in the meantime? Since it is the prime time for innovation in classical music, take advantage of it! We hear a lot about musicians becoming entrepreneurs. There is a reason why: it works! Musicians have all the necessary skills required of entrepreneurs. Is becoming an entrepreneur a lot more difficult that going down the traditional career path? Maybe. But it is possible! Now, finally, here are the five tips that can help you develop a sustainable career between graduation and landing the dream job: Before...read more
For a young flutist preparing to audition for college and conservatory admission (not to mention what lies beyond!), the enormity of the process can seem to loom larger than life. From choosing the schools and teachers with the strongest potential to be the best fit, to choosing repertoire and honing the skills and artistic voice necessary to perform convincingly, to creating successful pre-screening audition recordings and preparing live audition repertoire, to traveling for auditions and waiting for admission and financial aid decisions to arrive, and finally, to making that final leap of faith and committing to a school, the journey is both rich and arduous. It requires stamina and fortitude, focus and dedication, and most importantly, a positive outlook, a sense of humor, firm trust in one’s preparation and abilities, and unwavering confidence. Even the most thoroughly prepared student can become distracted by doubt and by thoughts such as, “my future will be determined by this five-minute audition” - thus easily erasing the hard-won progress and enthusiasm achieved in the practice room. With thoughtful care in cultivating a positive mindset and effective practice habits, these feelings of doubt and fear can be replaced by genuine excitement and healthy confidence. Setting Your Golden Standard Having an accurate, steeped-in-reality view of your current level of ability at the time of an audition is crucial to bringing a confident approach. As one Interlochen student wisely reported upon returning from a college audition tour, “When you walk into an audition, you can’t be better than you are.” Indeed, setting your standard out of the reach of your current ability, especially just as you step foot into in audition, has wickedly strong potential to set you up to feel that you have failed to deliver your very best, because you were focused instead on the alternative, out-of-reach “very best” you suddenly strived for in the moment. Performing well under the pressure of an expectation that can’t be met is debilitating for almost any player. Certainly, though, the excitement and magic of a live performance can serve to elevate your “gold standard” if you let it, and if your level of preparation allows for it. And of course, setting a standard that is too low will keep you from achieving your best in demonstrating all you have accomplished in your preparation. The adage “there is no substitute for practice” is glaringly true and apparent in an audition! Know your strengths, fortify any weaknesses through mindful practice, and trust your work. Taking Control of the Room An audition does not begin with the first note, but rather, it starts with the presence and attitude you bring when you first step into the room. This includes your body posture, your stride and sense of purpose, your facial expression, eye contact, and your overall sense of comfort, enthusiasm, and confidence. Strive to be yourself - your best self - and to remember that through your hard work and dedication, you have earned the right to feel positive and strong. Your Inner Voices are Talking…. (what are they telling you?) Fostering an effective mindset for successful auditions takes time, thoughtful reflection, and practice. Confidence is so frequently derailed by those unwelcome voices that can suddenly come to mind: “I’m not prepared. I’m not “good enough.” So-and-so sounds better. So-and-so...read more
Inflection is one of the most important tools we have in our expressive toolbox. It is also frequently largely discounted and overlooked. We spend the bulk of our practice time working on tone and technique, blowing and articulation, extended techniques, etudes, mastering the standard repertoire and orchestral excerpts. And we forget the primary artistic reason for all these skills, which is to have something to say musically and the means with which to say it. Let me pose the question in a slightly different way--What qualities do top performing artists demonstrate in their playing that draws you into their performances? Is it their sound? Their technique? The repertoire they play? The sheer force of their personality? Or could it have to do with their ability to show the pulse within a measure, the arc of a phrase, the larger structure of a movement or entire piece? Probably the most consequential and even cataclysmic thing a teacher ever said to me was when Thomas Nyfenger said to me, “It is obvious to me that you have a very active inner musical life. The problem is, I can’t hear it.” For me it was absolutely the right thing to say at the right time. By the time he said this to me, I had had seven or eight years of post-secondary education and studied with some amazing teachers including Samuel Baron, Judith Mendenhall, Tom Nyfenger, Harold Bennett and Raphael Dannatt (I know, who? More on Raphael another time). I had been introduced to the teaching of Moyse through his students and studied Tone Development Through Interpretation and the 24 Little Melodic Studies. For me, what Nyfenger said to me meant that it is one thing to understand the rules of musical inflection and even feel them internally. It’s quite another to demonstrate them overtly, so everyone listening can hear and feel the inflection as well. Nyfenger’s words literally drove me into a practice room for more than five years. I knew what I had to work on and I was determined to show my audience what I had come to understand working with the inspiring teachers I had had. I even formulated a rule for myself that has informed my playing and teaching ever since: “If you can’t hear it, it doesn’t count.” If you really reflect on this idea, you will see there are an infinite number corollaries or ways you can ask yourself about how effectively you are communicating the intent of the composer. Is understanding inflection an innate skill, something you are born with, or can you learn to play with more inflection, color and expression? I absolutely think there general principles that anyone can learn to put into practice. Here are a few basic ideas to stimulate your creative juices. Strong beats and weak beats - I know, well duh! But it’s one thing to understand it and another thing entirely to do it. Record yourself. Be courageous enough to ask yourself whether you can actually hear yourself play with inflection. The general rule Moyse talked about all the time was that weak goes to strong (4-1, 2-3, 4-1, 2-3, 4-1). Say this to yourself leading into the strong beat from the weak beat. How many times can you think of that a phrase...read more
Sarah Frisof: “Looking Back, the Flute Music of Joseph Schwantner” Joseph Schwantner has a long history of writing beautiful music for flute, and in her new CD, Sarah Frisof shares several of his works with us. The album includes: “Soaring” (1986), “Looking Back” (written in honor of Samuel Baron) “Black Anemones” (1980) and the first recording of “Taking Charge” written for Walfrid Kujala (2012). Sarah plays Schwanter’s music with technical mastery, excitement and verve. Her pitch is excellent as she navigates the very expressive and difficult challenges with amazing ease! The new work “Taking Charge” is scored for flute/piccolo, percussion and piano. Her expert pianist is the composer/pianist Daniel Pesca and she’s joined by Ji Hye Jung and Lee Vinson on percussion. They are all outstanding musicians and together play this new piece rhythmically and musically, creating the perfect ensemble and atmosphere. I especially love Movement 2, “a voice from afar” a 12 minute long movement with evocative and deeply felt piccolo, playing against non-pitched percussion of cymbals, triangle, steel bowls, gong and tam tam. The hushed quiet movement is in perfect contrast to the other more percussive, driving, jazzy surrounding movements. Schwantner is a wonderful and skilled composer, and if you want to learn more about his flute music, you can’t find a better introduction than this album! Recorded by Centaur in 2014 at the Lied Center, Lawrence, Kansas. Engineer, Colin Mahoney....read more
Erich Graf has written a memoir of his life as a flutist and more, and it’s an engrossing, enjoyable read. He had an over 35 year career as principal flute with the Utah Symphony, but it’s his artistic and emotional development and ethical approach to his life that is of great interest here. I loved reading about his education, first as a young student in his home town Ann Arbor, MI, and later at National Music Camp, Interlochen, and the Juilliard School, studying with Julius Baker. His stories about free-lancing in NYC in the 1970’s were evocative and, for me, nostalgic, of a time filled with the promise of an ever expanding, creative classical music field in the US. Graf went to Utah in 1976 at the invitation of legendary conductor Maurice Abravanel. While in Utah he later became president of Local 104, Salt Lake City, leaving in 2009 and moving to Virginia Beach where he now runs several music endowments. He’s had (and is having) a full, creative, and interesting career. The memoir describes his life and also includes his conscientious objector letter for the Vietnam War, articles he’s written for Local 104, a moving tribute to his parents as he closes up their home near the end of their lives, letters of recommendation and his resume. It’s interesting to read what he’s chosen to share and how it adds up to a portrait of a creative, examined life. To me what’s so valuable about reading the memoir and why I particularly recommend it, especially to younger flutists, is that Erich shares why he’s a musician and the epiphanies that lead to his self definition as a flutist and artist. He’s consciously lived an artist’s life and today when the pressure is on for artists to be business people, he’s had the opportunity to perfect his craft, reflect on why he’s a musician, and what the value is of what he’s sharing with the world. His point of view and story are very inspiring, and I think you will think so too. --Barbara...read more
As part of our ongoing series of interviews with college flute studios across the United States, we interviewed Cobus du Toit, Assistant Professor of Flute at University of Massachusetts Amherst, and his students: Isabelle Garland, Emily Kaplan, Alex Martin, Andrew Burden, Gloria Chiang, Katie Fejes, and Zachary Robarge We asked them about their passions, goals, inspirations, and advice they would offer to young students. Cobus du Toit Assistant Professor of Flute, University of Massachusetts Amherst Please list 3 pivotal moments that were essential to creating the artist that you've become. As an undergraduate I desperately wanted to win the principal position with the National Youth Orchestra of South Africa. They scheduled a tour to Germany where we would perform Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in Bonn, Beethoven’s birthplace. Two failed auditions in previous years forced me to analyze and study my own playing very carefully. I knew that my playing had to show personality in addition to being fundamentally strong against the other players with naturally strong musical abilities. The preparation for that audition was a pivotal moment for my technical facility. Focused hard work paid off over raw musical talent. When an audience member was moved to tears during a recital, I realized performing had a therapeutic component that should be more important than our inner judgments about our own playing. We simply act as the conduit for bringing beauty back into the world. This realization transformed my playing and most of my performance anxiety went away since. Music is a subjective art form and you can’t base your self-worth as a musician on a panel’s opinion of you. A few years ago I performed as a finalist in a major competition and honestly thought that I would walk away victorious. When I did not receive any prize, of course I was very disappointment. After some reflection and discussion with the panel, I realized that I was able to convey musical gestures in exactly the way I wanted to and that was very empowering to me. From that point forward I committed to conjure up an emotional response from every single audience member, either positive or negative. The worst thing someone could say about a performance is that it was fine. I either want them to really dislike my artistic choices or fall in love with them. What do you like best about performing and teaching? Performing – the sensation of improving everyday. I have become very interested in the art of practicing and how choices in the practice room influence my performances. The curiosity to improve my playing through skillful exploration has caused a major shift in my performing life. Recent repertoire choices also reflect this shift in the boundary of what I thought my limitations were. The idea of still improving in 30 years is exhilarating to me. Teaching offers me the opportunity to become a more compassionate communicator. As educators we often meet students during times of frustration and self-doubt. When these emotional factors are combined with the stress of moving, making new friends and adjusting to college life, choice of words in lessons is incredibly important. It is possible to set a very high expectation without being dictatorial and I strive everyday to be more kind, compassionate and understanding...read more
I'm back on the East Coast again, and I had a rare weekend off. What to do with my free time? Go to a flute fair, of course! I hopped on the Megabus to D.C. to see if the Mid-Atlantic Flute Fair lived up to the hype. And it certainly did! The 2 day yearly event, sponsored by the Flute Society of Washington, is a chance to try out flutes from all the top makers, go to workshops and lectures, and listen to concerts. I rarely get to go to a flute fair where I'm not working behind a booth, so it was very refreshing to just be able to enjoy the fair at my leisure. Plus, I had some Fluterscooter bag dealers there, so it was good to see The Flutists Faire, Flutistry Boston, and Flute World, too! Flute fairs are always a great place to network. and even though I saw very many familiar faces, I was glad to have met some new ones. One of them was Nancy Stignitta, fellow Powell Flutes artist and flute professor at the Interlochen Arts Academy. She gave a workshop entitled "College Pre-screening Recordings and Live Auditions- Prepare with Confidence." She offered sound advice on how to best prepare for auditions, not just for college, but for any professional audition. The importance of walking into the audition room with confidence was tested on a student who did a mock audition. The audition starts the minute you walk into the audition room, before you even start playing. It is important to show confidence to the judges, because that will show that you are prepared for the audition. Performance nerves were also discussed in the workshop, because who doesn't have them?! The participants discussed factors that caused nerves and possible ways to overcomes nerves, and Ms. Stignitta gave a personal anecdote about nerves, and that she will never be "robbed" again because of nerves. She uses the imagery of boxing gloves as strength when she goes into an audition, and that helps her with nerves every time. The next workshop I attended was one that was very familiar to me, since I often speak on the same subject. Dr. Katherine Emeneth's workshop, "I have a Degree in Music…Now What?" was very informative and up to date, and I learned many things that I will incorporate into my own lectures on the subject. Dr. Emeneth discussed forming your own chamber music group, building a teaching studio, and setting goals. She touched on the importance of using social media to promote yourself, networking, subbing in local orchestras, and attending flute events, among other things. Most importantly, she spoke about setting a goal you are passionate about and going for it, and not settling for something that doesn't align. For example, don't try to teach if you don't like kids! Do what works for you. She cited examples of flutists who have created the own careers such as Greg Patillo with the Project Trio and Classical Revolution. This lecture resonated a lot with me, because one of The Flute View's missions is to offer advice to flutists who are creating their own career paths. Look for a guest post by Dr. Emeneth about the subject in the upcoming months! Lastly, I attended "The Flute Studio of the Future: Enhancing Your Music Curriculum...read more