I feel duty-bound to write about my time as Assistant Program Chair for the National Flute Association. Yes, my time has been scarce; but that is not the only reason I have put it off for over two years. Somehow, I haven’t known how to write about such an enormous undertaking, and, frankly, I still don’t have a clue how to go about it.
The NFA was what I lived and breathed for fifteen months. Somehow, I managed to get Christmas Day off. Otherwise, I spent many hours a week staring at excel files and word docs, answering emails–and that was only the beginning. There was mail to sort and organize. An anonymous proposal-ranking panel needed to be managed; we listened to demos and read bios for hours. Thousands of notification emails were sent and questions were answered. There were conference calls and diplomatic phone calls. There was a speech to give first-time convention attenders. A convention schedule needed to be created and, later, checked through at least a million times. There were event descriptions to write and organize. There were convention grids to be made for the convention managers and works performed lists to be compiled. Magazine articles needed to be brainstormed, and someone needed to manage both the NFA Facebook and Twitter accounts. Would anyone believe me if I dared claim this poor paragraph only described the tip of the iceberg?
In the fifteen months of life I gave to the NFA, I think I most enjoyed little
blessings that popped up unexpectedly along the way: like joking with Program Chair Tadeu Coelho about possible event titles. At the convention itself, it was unreal to watch our schedule come to life. I was excited to have János Bálint, my teacher from the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, attend and perform at the 2013 convention [check out a video here]. He is one of my favorite flutists, and one of the best teachers and mentors I’ve ever had. There was a moment at the convention where, in explaining Hungarian folk music, he quickly
demonstrated by sweeping me up in a csárdás. In the end, though I was responsible for helping make sure the events were running smoothly, the events weren’t what made the convention for me. It was talking with Barthold Kuijken about Flemish politics, being remembered by Gary Schocker, conversing with Hubert Laws about cooking, working out an event room change with Marianne Gedigian, supplying Dr. Coelho with Cliff Bars, and other such memorable minutiae.
No, I may not have lived much those fifteen months; but I learned a mind-blowing amount in that time. I may be crazy, but there is no way I can perfectly express how very thankful I am for the experience of being an NFA Assistant PC, not to mention how thankful I am to Dr. Coelho for his mentorship.