Our Experiences at the 2019 NFA Convention

by Kathy Hancock and Emma McCulloch


from NFA Convention website

We attended all four days of the 47th Annual National Flute Association (NFA) Convention at the massive Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Here are our reflections on some of the events.

We followed the Young Artist Competition through the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. The winner was Antonina Styczeń. The clincher for the judges might have been Ms. Styczeń’s “explosive” performance of Jennifer Higdon’s Rapid Fire for Solo Flute. We also heard some of the High School Soloist Competition. There certainly is some impressive talent at very young ages!

A panel of composers of flute choir music (Nicole Chamberlain, Matt Johnston, Daniel Kessner, Ricky Lombardo, and Phyllis Avidan Louke) discussed the challenges and pitfalls of writing quality flute choir arrangements.

Peter Verhoyen, principal piccolo with the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, held a piccolo masterclass. The participants gave strong performances, but Mr. Verhoyen had lots of suggestions regarding intonation, vibrato, and accuracy of fingering. Mr. Verhoyen made a number of appearances during the convention and was always engaging and entertaining.

Simone Maurer, Australian flutist and Certified Movement Analyst, presented a workshop that explored how improved body posture and movement can enhance flute playing. At the same event, Samuel Hood, adjunct professor at Southwestern Adventist University, presented The Flutist’s MAPP (Movement Applications for Practice and Performance), a method of using movement to explore flute technique and musicality.

Kyle Dzapo, flute professor at Bradley University and past president of the NFA, presented an abridged version of her new film about the amazing life and prolific career of Joachim Andersen. Dr. Dzapo, John Thorne (associate professor at Northwestern University), and Dianne Frazer (piano) performed some of Andersen’s lesser known works.

The flute section of the Utah Symphony, Mercedes Smith (principal), Lisa Byrnes (associate principal), and Caitlyn Valovick Moore (piccolo/flute) presented a recital of trios and solos.

There were many themed recitals. In Wonder Women: Celebrating our Strength Through Music, several female flutists presented a recital of pieces by female composers. Elemental Influences: Earth, Air, Fire, Water presented the world premieres of Frank Martinez’ Music Inspired by the Four Corners (UT/CO/NM/AZ) and William Linthicum-Blackhorse’s Inipi Alowan (Sweat Lodge Song).

On Sunday morning, NFA members were welcomed as guests of The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for Music & the Spoken Word, a weekly TV broadcast at the LDS Church Conference Center, near the Salt Palace. The day’s message honored Myrna Brown, the NFA’s first executive director, for her power of influencing others through gentleness and love: “The music of the flute is one of the oldest and most beautiful sounds in musical history. But the most beautiful music of all is the kind we create when we give of ourselves to influence others for good.”

Highlights of the final event, the Sunday Gala Concert, were the world premiere of Jonathan Cohen’s low-flute-heavy Forbidden Forest, played by the Double Down Throw Down Low Flute Choir; Peter Verhoyen’s wildly entertaining piccolo performance of Pablo de Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen; and a moving performance of Yuko Uebayashi’s Town Light by Katherine Borst Jones, George Pope, and Dianne Frazer (piano) while the names of NFA members who have died in the past year were read. The convention closed with a mass performance of Bach’s Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3.

Contributed by RAFA Members Kathy Hancock and Emma McCulloch. 

The National Flute Association is the largest flute organization in the world. Founded in 1972 by Mark Thomas and incorporated in 1973, the NFA has approximately 5,000 members from more than 50 countries. Guided by its goals to encourage a higher standard of artistic excellence for the flute, its performers, and its literature, members include leading soloists, orchestral players, jazz and world music performers, teachers, adult amateurs, and students of all ages.

The organization boasts the largest lending library of flute music internationally with a catalogue of more than 15,000 works. Dedicated to inspiring young artists, NFA has numerous scholarship programs for continuing education including cultural outreach scholarships in 15 U.S. and non-U.S. cities. Its effort in the area of music commissioning has resulted in more than 65 outstanding new works for both flute and piccolo.

The organization also hosts an annual flute convention, rotating through major cities in the US, that brings together flutists from varying backgrounds and specialties for a week of performances, lectures, masterclasses, and workshops.

The 2020 NFA Convention will take place Dallas, Texas from August 6 – 9, 2020.

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