NFA Highlights by Viviana Guzman
Usually all of us at The Flute View Magazine write a little summary of the various concerts we attend at the National Flute Association Convention. This year, Fluterscooter and I were the only ones able to go to NFA in San Diego, and since she was kept busy in her Fluterscooter booth, I was the only one who was able to listen to some concerts.
Please keep in mind that this is only a very small sampling of what was available in the program book. I was working as the NFA Public Relations Chair, so I had certain duties to fulfill and I had to go in and out of various performances, so I was unable to attend complete performances.
Following are some highlight performances:
Thursday Afternoon Concert
A Thursday afternoon delight was listening to ZAWA’s splendid concert with Jill Felber, Claudia Anderson and Dianne Frazer followed by Amy Porter’s spectacular performance of the Prokofiev Sonata with pianist Katie Leung…. exquisitely executed…. MEMORIZED! Listen to a clip from The Flute View Instagram feed here. What a terrific way to start off the convention.
Friday Afternoon Tribute to Katherine Hoover
Denis Bouriakov’s performance of “Spirit Flight” by Katherine Hoover was sublime, delicate and profound, appropriately reflecting the piece’s title.
Zara Lawler spun her unique saga on “Serenade from Canyon Echoes” by Katherine Hoover with Dustin Donahue (vibraphone and marimba) and Barbie Diewald (choreographer). Bringing movement into her selection, Lawler’s interpretation of Hoover’s work was creative, original and innovative, transporting the work into new interpretive heights. Lawler was a delight to witness.
Another thrilling collaboration, was “The Word in Flower” by Katherine Hoover performed by Bonita Boyd, (flute), Anna Belaya, (soprano), Daniel Nistico (guitar). Listening to the contrasting sonorities of each movement was like tasting the varying courses within a meal. Boyd’s thoughtful luminosity rang together gracefully with Belaya’s robust and resonant voice while Nistico’s guitar provided a resonant bed for the ethereal singing lines.
“Dream Dances” for piano solo by Katherine Hoover performed by Dianne Frazer was the perfect palette cleanser of the recital, brilliantly executed with Frazer’s technical prowess and solitary flair.
Another visionary favorite was “Kokopelli” by Katherine Hoover as performed by Laurel Zucker. Choosing to perform the work, from the audience rather than from the stage, Zucker brought a haunting sheen to this popular work. Technically brilliant and with a ravishing sound, Zucker placed her bewitching stamp on this alluring and favored solo work for flute.
Finishing off this remarkable concert, was Denis Bouriakov and Dianne Frazer performing “Mountain and Mesa” by Katherine Hoover. Spinning their enchanting collaboration, Bouriakov and Frazer performed a spellbinding rendition of this most entrancing and lesser known gem.
Listen to short performance clips that I posted from the NFA Instagram feed here.
Friday Night GALA
The Friday Night Gala commenced with Handel’s Sonata in E Minor, Fantasy on Benyovzky by Pfeiffer and Romanian Folk Dances by Bartok as performed by the brilliant Hungarian flutist, Gergely Ittzes (flute) and the always excellent Margaret McDonald (piano)
The Chaconne by Bach and Fantaisie-Impromptu by Chopin are very known works of the violin and piano world respectively. Denis Bouriakov (flute) and Margaret McDonald (piano) performed these works with dazzling, majestic and breathtaking ease. Bouriakov’s arrangements of these jewels, are sure to become popular encores for the flute.
The Desert Echoes Flute Project conducted by Christina Steffen was a notable occasion. With several NFA Premieres on the program, the DEF Project was an impressive group. Conducted by the charming and insightful, Christina Steffen, this flute choir boasts stunning sonorities, and accomplished techniques. The DEF Project is a first-class ensemble.
Concerto in Three Movements by Ken Benshoof as performed by Jennifer Gunn (piccolo) left her audience entranced. Gunn wove her magic tale, and as if hypnotized, the audience leapt to their feet in the end in appreciation.
Another show-stopper, was the Klezmer Medley Traditional arranged and performed by Adrianne Greenbaum and conducted by Clyde Mitchell. With it’s foot-tapping rhythms, and consummate playing, Greenbaum and Mitchell “knocked it out of the park” and again, the audience rose to give the well deserved standing ovation.
The brilliant performance that finished this concert was Walter Auer who performed the Reinecke Concerto under the baton of Ransom Wilson.
Saturday Night Cabaret
Jose Valentino, Giovanni Perez and Jim Walker playing Jose Valentino compositions arranged by Giovanni Perez. There are no words to convey the absolute brilliant talents and creativities of all three of these fine musicians. Jose and Giovanni’s “break out” moment, was definitely when Jose pulled out his electric bass (?!) and started singing, scatting and all-around funk-ing-out while Giovanni added a masterful flute solo. This was a night to remember, Valentino and Perez are the rising stars of the next generation. Listen to a sample clip here.
La Campanella by Niccolò Paganini as performed by Denis Bouriakov (flute ) and Lillian Buss Pearson (piano) was another transcription programed by Bouriakov. Once again, his impeccable performance was charmingly a mind-blowing, jaw-dropping interpretation as he used his signature wizard tonguing in the lightning speed passages.
Djangish was performed by PROJECT TRIO, Greg Pattillo (flute), Eric Stephenson (cello), Peter Seymour (bass). THIS. GROUP. IS. EPIC. Creative arrangements, dynamic performance, with a hint of comedy, The Project Trio is in a class of their own.
And to close off the concert and convention, the Bach Air as conducted by Zart Dombourian-Eby was sentimental, inspiring and of course, with touches of melancholia as the room lite up in camaraderie and respect.
Once again, the National Flute Association Convention was an astounding success. Thank you to the Board, Officers and Volunteers who make the event run so smoothly and seamlessly. Thank you to all the remarkable performers who participate every year, which makes this our sensational event of the year.
See you next year in Minneapolis!
Viviana Guzman, The Flute View