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Creating a Digital Music Library

After several weeks of holiday travel, one modern technological convenience that I have come to greatly appreciate is cloud storage. While packing my suitcase for a three-week stretch of family and friend visits, the one item I was able to leave off of my checklist was music scores. Over the past couple of years– and with the help of my iPad, a few apps, and cloud storage– I have been working on gradually building a digital music library. Creating a digital music library has allowed me to avoid carrying around a stack of scores and given me access my repertoire on-the-go, whether it be extended vacations or merely my daily school routine. Here are the necessary tools for creating your own digital music library. (more…)

Program Notes Database Project

Hello from Connecticut, and Happy Holidays!

A new project that I will be starting on Between the Ledger Lines is a Program Notes database. As part of my flute lessons every semester, I must assemble a portfolio of lesson notes, practice logs, a press packet, and program notes for my current repertoire. Writing program notes can be a time consuming and tedious task, so I will be sharing my research from each semester here. I will include my finished product along with links to my sources and some of my favorite recordings. This also helps me in that I have an easily accessible back-up of my program notes! I must confess I got this idea from Fenwick Smith, who has meticulously chronicled his past recital programs and included program notes for many of the performances listed.

In the coming months, keep an eye out for program notes on the Poulenc Sonata, Griffes Poem, Hindemith Sonata, Villa Lobos Bachianas Brazileiras No. 6, and Dring Trio. These works will be featured on my first DMA recital at West Virginia University on March 29, 2014.

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Hector Berlioz’s Treatise on Instrumentation: Early 19th-century Flute Structural Inconsistencies

French composer Hector Berlioz’s Treatise on Instrumentation (1843/4, rev. 1855) is a historically significant document that provided one of the most comprehensive discussions on instruments and orchestration of the early nineteenth century. Reading the entries in this document from a twenty-first century perspective offers musicians an authoritative description of each instrument by one of the foremost orchestrators of the time. Berlioz’s entry on the flute in the Treatise, however, presents one of the most problematic and neglected issues in the academic flute literature: the structural development of the flute and the concurrent treatment of the flute in the symphony orchestra during the Classical/Romantic era.

The structure of the flute inconsistently evolved from approximately 1750 through the introduction of the Boehm flute in the 1840s. During this nearly 100-year time span, instrument makers began adding keys to the standard one-keyed, or in the case of Quantz, two-keyed Baroque flute, but instrument makers in different countries made these advances in isolation, thus eradicating the collective international conception of how the instrument looked, sounded, and functioned. Simultaneously, composers began regularly including the flute in the wind section of the Classical symphony, but Berlioz pointed out in his entry on the flute in the Treatise that the instrument’s weaknesses were apparent in the orchestral writing of this time: relentless use of the high register and lack of significant solo passages for fear that the instrument would not be heard. These characteristics are particularly evident in the orchestration of Beethoven, as the first flute parts for his symphonies remain largely above the staff. The remainder of Berlioz’s entry on the flute in the Treatise further complicates this scenario. While Berlioz cites Boehm’s revolutionary improvements to the instrument, the rest of the entry seems to describe an instrument from decades past. The inconsistencies found in the Berlioz Treatise therefore illuminate the lack of consensus on flutes and flute playing during the Classical/Romantic era.

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Greetings from West Virginia!

Greetings from my new home: the beautiful mountains of Morgantown, WV! Much has happened in my 3-month hiatus from Between the Ledger Lines.

I moved to Morgantown in mid-June to pursue my DMA at West Virginia University. I was in town for less than one week before I left for my summer festival in Kingston, PA. This summer marked my third year on the faculty of The Performing Arts Institute at Wyoming Seminary, a 6-week music festival for students ages 12-18. New responsibilities included coordinating the music theory department, being promoted to teaching Theory II, and serving as substitute flute teacher for the first week. I feel incredibly fortunate that I get to spend my summers performing, teaching theory, giving masterclasses and private flute lessons, and coaching chamber music. The students are always a pleasure to work with– they actually elect to spend their summers at a music festival! One unique aspect of this festival is the side-by-side learning experience. The faculty and college-aged counselors perform in all of the ensembles with the students. Each ensemble has a new conductor and program every week with performances every weekend. The repertoire was fantastic, as always– Dvorak 7, Copland Rodeo, Mahler 5 finale, Death and Transfiguration, Lt. Kije, The Planets, Tchaik 4, and a fully-staged production of Les Misérables. I definitely had plenty of opportunity to get my orchestral chops back in shape before starting school again!

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With my wonderful students: Mahler 5 flute section.

I am now in week 4 of my graduate classes at West Virginia University. I am very excited to be studying with my new teacher, Nina Assimakopoulos. In addition to my flute studies, I am doing a repertoire/pedagogy project, performing with the orchestra, and taking a doctoral seminar on the music of Hector Berlioz. The orchestra will be going on tour in January to perform at the College Orchestra Directors Association conference in Fort Worth, TX– repertoire is Beethoven 1 and Tchaik 6. My repertoire/pedagogy course has morphed into a publishing project, much of which I will be documenting here. On top of my coursework, I am also preparing for several competitions this fall.

Exciting things are happening, and some incredible opportunities are coming up, so stay tuned!

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Remembering Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013)

Last week, the world learned of Henri Dutilleux’s passing. Flutist know his Sonatine for flute and piano (1943) as one of the great French concert pieces of the 20th century, but Dutilleux notoriously did not share our overwhelming love for his composition. In an interview with author Claude Glayman in 1977, he had this to say regarding the Sonatine:

I had written… some pieces commissioned by Claude Delvincourt, then the director of the Conservatorie. He had a double aim: to make young composers explore instrumental technique (you can’t write any old thing for young players) and, at the same time, to force instrumental students to work on new scores, which Delvincourt wanted to be full of traps and technical difficulties. This is how I came to write, one after the other, pieces for bassoon, flute, oboe, and trombone; the flute piece is the Sonatine for flute and piano, which has been recorded many times abroad, although I have never wanted it to be recorded in France because it doesn’t yet sound really like my music. But I haven’t put any embargo on that.*

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