Flute Choir sings sweetly

Brian Allen

The flute is considered a woodwind instrument but it has no reed. Sound is produced by the flow of air across an opening, technically it is an edge-blown aerophone. Flutes are the oldest known musical instruments dating back to a four holed cave bear femur 43 thousand years ago. The flutes and flautists who graced White Concert Hall Sunday, Nov. 8 were significantly younger. The Topeka Youth Flute Choirs have members ranging from the sixth grade to the college level.

Choir members come from various local schools. The director, Rebecca Meador, associate professor of flute, talked about organizing the choir.

“Actually it’s pretty fun, I have a very, very good time working with the students. Probably the most difficult thing is selecting the correct literature that will provide them a really great opportunity to perform and grow as musicians but also be accessible within seven rehearsals.”

Meador mentioned how appreciative she was of the parents and all their support. She hoped they could hear how the students have progressed. She said, “We have worked a lot on precision, ensemble precision, beginning phrases together, ending phrases together, and having some shape, some line.”

The precision work was evident when the concert began with the Arioso Quartet performing the Intrada by Ce`sar Frank. They were led by assistant director Christopher Roth, a Washburn junior majoring in music performance. They set the bar high and the following performances made you understand why they call the flute groups choirs. The flute harmonies resonated like fine voices; if you listened carefully you could pick out the bass and altos.

All the groups were a delight to listen to but the Washburn University Flute Ensemble really made you sit-up and take notice as they played The Moldau by Bedrich Smetena, arranged by Guy du Cheyron. The precision was razor sharp, each note clear and crisp, the obvious result of experience and practice. They certainly sounded like good role models for the younger players.

The signature piece of the evening was Tall Grass performed by the Washburn University Flute Ensemble, accompanied by Patricia Gibson on the piano. It was commissioned in part by the Educational Credit Union for publication and composed by Catherine McMichael. The music carried you away over windblown waves of grass, gently undulating in a dance across the prairie.

My personal favorite was Echoes in the Wind, by Phyllis Avidan Louke. Performed by the Topeka Youth Flute Choir and accompanied by Matthew Bell on percussion; the flutes and haunting drum had a distinct, solemn, Native American voice- perhaps singing, where have I gone?

Echoes in the Wind featured Rayana Goldsmith, Erick Hahn, Katheryn Meehan and Emily Patterson, all described as “talented young musicians” by Meador.

After the concert, Moriyah Ramberg, a thirteen-year-old flute player in the Camerata Ensemble, said, “It went pretty well. We’ve been practicing for a couple weeks now so it’s really nice to finally perform.” 

Which is exactly the experience Meador wanted the young musicians to have.

“I’m always very proud of them, they work really, really hard. It’s not easy for some of these young people to get up and play. I thought they did very, very well and I hope they enjoyed themselves. I want to make sure they have a great experience, that they are not afraid of playing, they feel good about themselves and their playing. And that they continue to play in the future.”