Gentle Giants & Tiny Astronauts

The past few months have been a steady build of concerts, compositions, and collaborations, using all six of my flutes. I’m happy to report my health is excellent now, which is just as well, because there’s a lot of heavy lifting of, and deep travel with, instruments and repertoire…

CaballitoNegroSonglinesReh10-29-15Terry Longshore and I are performing our Caballito Negro “Songlines” program, this week at the Festival of New American Music. It’s always in the last week or two that I start to wonder (carrying a ton of flutes and paraphernalia, weighing more than I do) just what the hell was I thinking. But our program supersedes my albeit brief complaints – we’ve prepared an amazing narrative journey, with exciting forays into text with music. We are especially thrilled to premiere “This is Like Jazz”, a contrabass/marimba/spoken word Turkmenistan-inspired work co-commissioned from Ivan Trevino, and our our own jointly-composed work for flute, tabla and various percussion, “That Which Colors The Soul”.

Playing multiple flutes, with all their idiosyncrasies, lead to an inevitable contrabass flute repair in the Bay Area a few weeks ago, with flute repair wizard Lori Lee. Contrabasses don’t have a long track history in the world of flute-making, or many players, so we are reliant on the intuitive smarts of willing technicians. ContrabassRepairLoriLee2015EditAs the gentle giants of the flute world, contrabass flutes fall apart when you merely glance at them – those long rods and large pads mean anything can go wrong. Lori was enamored of my flute-stand which is combination of camera tripod and handy welding, hence the photo.

AdAstraMarkTessa2015EditComposer and genius-at-large Mark Jacobs has just finished writing me a work for piccolo and electronic soundscape “Ad Astra”, which I’ll play in a solo program in 2017, but may premiere earlier if there’s a good opportunity. Elements include data sonification of the Carina star system, and the earliest example of ancient Greek music notation “Epitaph of Seikilos”. The piccolo player is a tiny astronaut, journeying through from “here” to “there”, in a way that is both very abstract and very moving.

In a completely different galaxy, my piccolo is also featured in Bryan Jeff’s new piece “The Shady Lady & The Rebel Frog”, premiered by SOU percussion ensemble in later November. Think Frank Zappa in a truculent and sultry mood.

This summer I recorded and edited rapid fire by Jennifer Higdon, the fourth piece in my solo album Descent. I have just two more pieces to record (December!), and I hope to have the album released in Spring 2016.

Also in the hopper are collaborations with pianist Christine Eggert, realizing French 20th impressionist repertoire, with poetic/political/wild-card text! I’m also gearing up for my role as traverso player in Portland’s very new Next World Collective baroque ensemble. We’re enjoying not just baroque, but folk and contemporary works that stretch out and fit our instruments beautifully.


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