[Throwbacks.] The 41st Annual National Flute Association Convention.

I feel duty-bound to write about my time NFA Convention Bookas 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.

kuijken playing

Barthold Kuijken, flute, and Thomas Gerber, harpsichord.

Krewe of Pan

Kris Keith and the Krewe of Pan.

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?

jazz 2

From left to right: Hubert Laws, Orlando “Maraca” Valle, and Jim Walker, jazzing up a storm.

coelho and balint

With two of my favorite teachers, Dr. Tadeu Coelho (left) and János Bálint (right).

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.

mississippi river

[Throwbacks.] Tercets

Lago MaggioreBack in 2011, I had just come state-side from six months of study abroad in Budapest when I up and headed back across the Atlantic for a music festival in bella Italia: SoundSCAPE in Maccagno.  [I’ve mentioned SoundSCAPE before, in my post about Jane Rigler’s Two Seamingbut I don’t think I expressed just how beautiful Lago Maggiore is or how inspiring SoundSCAPE was.  If you like new music, don’t hesitate; just go!]

At any rate, I recently found a recording that resulted from a SoundSCAPE collaboration: the world premiere of Kyle Rowan‘s Tercets, expanding.  It was an exhilarating, hold-on-to-your-hats work to perform, and my colleagues Gleb Kanasevich and Joseph Tomasso were amazing musicians.  Kyle did such a fascinating job playing with textures between flute, clarinet, and alto saxophone; I love the way this piece simmers and percolates.  For a listen, check out Kyle’s SoundCloud here.

Tercets, expanding

Premiering Tercets, Expanding with Gleb and Joseph at SoundSCAPE, 2011.

A Seasoned Musician?

Amadeus

Wolfgang and his powdered wig conducting the FSO.

June has arrived, and my first season with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra has
come to a close.  Puns aside, it has been such a blast!  I have learned so much from my incredibly friendly woodwind and brass colleagues and have gotten to play amazing repertoire, to boot.  Some season highlights include: being part of a live production of
Amadeus
 in collaboration with the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, playing piccolo in Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, and my first ever performance of John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever–on Sousa’s 160th birthday.  For a little peek into what this year was like, check out this flattering review of our Season finale in April: “This performance [of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique] ranked among the best, live or on record.”  Wow!  In short, I feel incredibly blessed.

IMG_6213Meanwhile, in March, I was blessed to begin work at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ Community Music School.  My little studio has
taught me so very much in the last three months; I can’t wait to continue working with the students very soon!

Of course, my first year as a DMA student has also ended.  The end of the semester brought me two exciting multimedia experiences.  The first: performances of MAX patches written by members of the Greensboro Laptop Orkestra (GLOrk).

Second, Dr. Michael S. Rothkopf (composer of Coloured Inks) asked me to perform an excerpt of his work Gitanjali with three lovely dancers at UNCSA’s M3 Spree.  Flute, computer, and dance–what an incredible experience!

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“Of the Energies,” by Kate McFalls, at UNCSA’s M3 Spree.

Hired! and other updates.

IMG_5695Time sure does seem to fly when you’re having fun, and the last months have been quite the whirlwind!  I auditioned for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra‘s second flute opening in May 2014 and still am wildly ecstatic to have been selected for the job.   I played my first concert with the FSO in September, beginning my professional orchestra career with good old Beethoven 5.  While this year is still a probational period for me, it has been such an honor and privilege to perform with such fine musicians!  Check out my profile with the symphony here.

After three amazing weeks in China over the summer, I came back to compete at the Rosen-Schaffel competition in Boone, NC, where I finally proved to myself that I can play from memory.

In November, my good friend Elizabeth Milligan and I performed I Dream of Coloured Inks on a recital featuring compositions by Michael S. Rothkopf at UNCSA’s Watson Hall.  It was amazing to be on a program with some of my former professors.

And now?  I’m working hard at learning Max/MSP, not to mention researching potential dissertation topics.

Remember that time Sir James Galway came to hear a few UNC School of the Arts students play in a masterclass?  I found out, much later, he mentioned us in his blog!  “…the students play to a very high level.”  What a compliment!

I Dream of Coloured Inks.

IMG_4321
IMG_4312Once upon a time, I was given the opportunity to perform a work called Improvisation for Flute and Computer by Dr. Michael S. Rothkopf.  [You can read about that multimedia experience and listen to a recording here.]

Since then, Dr. Rothkopf kindly composed me a work  for two flutes and computer.  His source of inspiration: the Hungarian poem “Mostan színes tintákról álmodom” (“I Dream of Coloured Inks”) by Kosztolányi Dezső.  As theIMG_4317 work evolved, the opportunity arose for the piece to become multimedia artwork with the
addition of a visual component!  A lighting program (influenced by the artwork of James Turrell) was generated by four Design & Production students at UNCSA, with the help of their lighting instructor Norman Coates.

In a performance of Improvisation or Coloured Inks, the computer (Max/MSP) listens to six elements of the sound being generated by the two flutes and makes decisions pertaining to how it will respond musically. Now, however, with the addition of the lighting program in Coloured Inks, the computer also responds visually.

The work was premiered on April 30, 2014 at UNCSA and received a second performance at UMBC in May 2014.  Because the lighting program is being further developed, a link to the work will be available after a third performance late this year.

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Freischütz and Nostalgia.

Opera glovesPrepare yourselves for some opera!  Now’s the time to pull on your dress gloves, should you have them.

Der Freischütz, composed in 1821, was an extremely influential opera in its day, propelling the genre towards its evolution from the opera of the classical period to the through-composed operas of the late Romantic period.  Richard Wagner and his contemporaries were certainly inspired by its composer, Carl Maria von Weber.  The opera itself draws upon Faustian ideas, telling the tale of a man who tries to damn the soul of a friend in an effort to keep his own soul.  (Some friend, right?)  In contrast, the opera’s heroine, Agathe, personifies prayerfulness–and, you guessed it, Agathe is in love with the guy that’s doomed.  Opera wouldn’t be opera without a love interest–it’d be Einstein on the Beach.  The themes from the opera Taffanel uses in his Fantaisie sur le Freischütz revolve primarily around Agathe’s character.  The first theme, “Leise, leise fromme Weise” (or, “Softly, gentle air”) is a prayer of hope.  “Und ob die Wolke” (“And even if clouds veil it”) is a prayer in which she pleads for protection.  The last theme is a coy tune that a friend sings to Agathe in order to cheer her up, called: Kommt ein schlanker Bursch gegangen” or “Whenever an attractive boy walks by.”

I guess I’m in a bit of a nostalgic mood today.  This was the first piece I learned in my time at UNCSA, and it will be the last piece I play representing UNCSA at the Rosen-Schaffel Competition–so I thought I’d post my recording of the piece from last summer.

Recording Rigler.

IMG_3984First off, I’m back on the New World Symphony semifinal sub-list!  Huzzah!

UNCSA’s Master of Music program is very practical; hence, graduate students are required to take a recording class–a class which proved to be one of my favorites at the school.  The craft of the music technician always mystified me, with their mixers and bouncing and Toast.  Needless to say, it was exciting to get to work with software such as Digital Performer!

My recording of Jane Rigler‘s Two Seaming is the result.  I first heard the piece in my junior year as an undergrad.  The dynamic between the two flute parts really struck me; in a live performance, who is playing what becomes ambiguous.  My first performance of the work took place at SoundSCAPE in Maccagno, Italy, with my rivetingly musical teacher Lisa Cella.

In planning the project, I decided to record both parts of the duo myself.  Then came a good many hours of EQing and editing.  You can listen to the finished product here.

 

 

 

The Voice of the Whale.

Krisztina Dér, “electric” flute
Emily Grissing, “electric” cello
Richard Auvil, “electric” piano

Vox Balaenae for three masked players (1971), by George Crumb (b. 1929)
Vocalise (…for the beginning of time)
Variations on Sea-Theme
~ Sea Theme
~ Archeozoic [Var. I]
~ Proterozoic [Var. II]
~ Paleozoic [Var. III]
~ Mesozoic [Var. IV]
~ Cenozoic [Var. V]
Sea-Nocturne (…for the end of time)

January 18, 2014.

20140118_130608“Exuberant, uninterrupted rivers of sound”–these are the words zoologist Robert Searle Payne used to describe the musical sounds produced by humpback whales, which he discovered in 1969.  Payne’s recording of the whale song was given to George Crumb by the New York Camerata, commissioning a work inspired by the voice of the whale (or, Vox Balaenae, in latin).

Vox Balaenae is a synergy of theatrics, extended techniques, musical quotations, and a submarine-sound environment, with the use of amplification (hence the “electric” instruments).  Both the masks worn by the musicians and the deep-blue light in which they perform symbolize (according to the score) “the powerful impersonal forces of nature” by “effacing a sense of human projection.”  The variations are named after geological periods which describe the formation of the world.  The Archeozoic period was defined by volcanic activity and heat, while the Proterozoic period transitioned our planet to the oxygenated (and, thereby, complex-life friendly) atmosphere of the Paleozoic period.  The Mesozoic period is called the “Age of Reptiles” in contrast to the Cenozoic period, the “Age of Mammals.”    Technicalities aside, Vox Balaenae is a work of captivating, mysterious, timeless beauty–very much like a whale itself.

This performance took place on my second Master’s recital: January 18, 2014, in Watson Hall at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.  Richard Auvil (piano) and Emily Grissing (cello) were both gracious enough to help me make my cetaceous dreams come true!

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[Throwbacks.] II. Winds Upon a String.

WindsUponAString100

After being haphazardly placed into an ensemble together at the beginning of their WindsUponAStringfreshman year of college, Linehan scholars Aimee Raechel and I formed Winds Upon a String, which marked the beginning of an adventure of musical fun and exploration.
Winds Upon A String… (formerly WindStroke) rehearsals always include randomness, laughter, improvisation, and epic brainstorming, resulting in performances that are always a hute–and super flarptastic!

Our greatest privileges thus far have included the opportunity to perform for a luncheon held in honor of Marin Alsop, internationally acclaimed conductor and Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and to provide background music for a black-tie celebration in honor of Dr. Freeman Hrabowski III‘s 20th year as President of the University of Maryland Baltimore County at the Waterfront Marriott in Baltimore, MD.

More recently, we commissioned the compostision WindStruck, by our friend and colleague Jennifer N. Roberts, which we premiered in 2012.

You can email us at windsuponastring@gmail.com for more information about us!

[Throwbacks.] I. Flute, harp, and composer.

WindsUponAString and JennOnce upon a time (2012, to be exact), a flute and harp duo called Winds Upon a String (featuring me and harpist Aimee Raechel) commissioned our lovely classmate, composer, and friend Jennifer N. Roberts to write us a piece to perform at the 2012 annual Linehan scholars dinner.

The piece that resulted, WindStruck, was inspired by tango and Finnish heavy metal.  Go check it out, here!

Musician vs. Technology.

Krisztina and ComputerIn July, I was honored to perform a revised version of  Michael Rothkopf‘s Improvisation for Flute and Computer.  Dr. Rothkopf, a composition and music technology professor at UNC School of the Arts, created a complex computer program which analyzes six elements of sound being produced by the performer (frequency, amplitude, etcetera), proceeds to make quick decisions with regards to how it ought to respond to those six elements (similarly, or in contrast?), and generates sounds of its own.  I imagine that, in a way, performing the piece was something like playing chess with Deep Blue.  There is always an element of the unexpected.

Click here to listen to a recording of the live performance.

Qualified Sub.

Yes, folks–that’s right!  I got onto the semi-final sub-list for the New World Symphony located in Miami, Florida!

IMG_1967Also, the UNCSA orchestra played its final Spring Dance concert, and the Daphnis went smashingly!  Oh, and did I mention we went on tour, participating in UNC Chapel Hill’s The Rite of Spring at 100?  The UNCSA orchestra (in collaboration with the UNCSA Dance Department) was the only student performance represented, sharing the stage with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and the Martha Graham Dance Company.

Some opportunities come once in a lifetime.

GalwayI played for Sir James Galway.  It’s sort of hard to wrap my head around something so big, but–there it is.  I have been blessed with the experience of playing for a living legend.  I’m so glad he was able to come and teach a masterclass at UNCSA, and excited my studio was able to raise the money to get him to come.

Sir Jame’s advice?  Practice scales, practice embouchure, practice diminuendos, practice hand and finger technique.  Never forget the big picture.

Why music?

french music “You’re going to major in music?” Upon my high school graduation, my extended family (great aunts and second cousins alike) all seemed to have been crouching in anticipation, ready to pounce me with the question.  “Why?  We thought you were smarter than that.”  Why, indeed.
     I had a roommate who was applying to schools for a graduate degree in chemistry at the same time I was applying for a MM.  The schools not only offered to pay all her tuition and give her a generous stipend.  They paid for her to visit the schools: hotel, food, airfare.  She raised her eyebrows, genuinely wondering: “Why go to grad school–for music?”  Why, indeed.
     Why have I chosen something as difficult and relatively unrewarding as classical music as my vocation?  Why didn’t I choose microbiology, English, or ophthalmology?  I would have been capable of any of those things.
     Some of the reasoning behind my pursuit of music as a career comes, of course, from my love for the art.  It would be madness to pursue music as a career if there was no pleasure to be had in it.  However, much of it has had to do with opportunity.  I have a family background of individuals who pursued music seriously as amateurs.  My parents listened to little other than classical music.  It was natural–and expected–that I should study music.  Then, when I decided I would try competing and auditioning, the doors to a career in music welcomed me, and so have, since.  I take my life a step at a time, growing deeper in my love for an art form that is so abstractly beautiful, knowing that, whatever it is I do to earn my living, music will always be an integral part of me.
     Zoltán Kodály seemed to believe that music was innate to peoples of all the world, seeking to train the ears of the masses to enjoy classical music by implementing his Kodály method, which brings the listener to an understanding of music, beginning with the music which results from his native language–folk music.  Do people want to understand classical music, however?
     The masses say: Classical music is not culturally relevant.  If people mean it’s not new enough for them, what about all of the composers hailed as “too intellectual” in the last fifty to sixty years?  What I believe most individuals mean by this is “abstract music is boring.”
     My response: Yes, and that’s because, in this materialistic, fast-paced, over-stimulated, entertainment-demanding culture, it takes too much thought and time to comprehend, to learn to enjoy.
     Reading that statement again, I realize it sounds woefully arrogant.  I do believe that all musics are valid forms of expression.  I simply think that some express themselves in a more sophisticated manner than others, and that, were more people to take the time to understand classical music, it would achieve greater success.
     That being said, does success in the world give something its value?  I should hope not!  If it were, many beautiful and useful things would be worthless.  Classical music, I believe, is an expression of the pursuit of the infinitely beautiful–something the soul innately longs for.  Giving individuals a taste of the beautiful, encouraging them to wonder and enter the realm of the metaphysical–this is what makes music valuable.  This is why I am a musician.

My Metronome’s Name is Sauron (apparently).

And so Metronome, enemy of rubato-loving peoples of the Earth, was defeated.  The Battery passed to the Trash Can, who had this one chance to spontaneously combust and destroy evil forever.
But the hearts of trash cans are easily corrupted, and the Battery of Power has a will of its own.  It betrayed the trash can–to his death.  And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost.  History became legend.  Legend became myth.  And for a time and a half, the battery passed out of all knowledge.  Until, when chance came, it ensnared another bearer.
It came to the creature Charger, who took it deep into the tunnels of the AC Socket.  And there, it consumed him.  Uncertainty crept back into the ticking of the time-keeping world.  Rumor grew of a shadow, whispers of a nameless fear, and the Battery of Power perceived its time had come.  It abandoned Charger, but then something happened that the Battery did not intend.  It was found by the most unlikely person imaginable: a singer.
For the time will soon come when singers will shape the time-keeping fortunes of all.