Wendy Rolfe, D.M.A., Professor, Woodwind Department, sent in a dispatch from the site of a world record effort you may never have imagined. —Magen
On August 14, 2009, Berklee flutists contributed to setting the new world record for “The World’s Largest Flute Ensemble” – 1989 flutists from all over the world performing together at the National Flute Association Convention in New York City. Conducted by Sir James Galway, Berklee student Jacquelynn Ware and I played a specially composed medley with 1987 other flutists in the ballroom at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in a successful attempt to break the previous Chinese-held world record. (The actual total was probably over 2,000.) Jackie, fellow Berklee students Wei Jing Saw and Javier Zuniga, and I, were among 4,632 Convention flutists attending from all over the world, another NFA record.
The two photos you see give you an idea of the “flute energy” in the packed ballroom. The smiling face of Janice Smith, a thirty-five year veteran of the St. Louis Symphony flute section reflects the fun we were having. Jan was my flute teacher when I was in Junior High School, and we have remained close friends, and often Convention roommates, ever since. She is one of the most brilliant teachers I have ever encountered, always thinking of clever new ways to approach every imaginable technical and musical challenge, while remaining encouraging and full of humor.
…….Listening, learning, connecting with long-time friends and gearing up to perform in the “Telemannathon at 8 (that’s “eight”) AM on the last day of the Convention…….
I was honored to be invited by another former teacher of mine, John Solum, to join Steven Zohn, Associate Professor at Temple University, to perform in the opening concert of this six-hour marathon featuring all of the flute duets by Georg Philipp Telemann. We performed on one-key wooden Baroque “traverso” flutes, copies of flutes from Telemann’s early to mid eighteenth-century era.
Steve was a pleasure to play and work with, and he presented an entertaining introduction to the works, drawn from his acclaimed Telemann biography. Some of the duets we performed have been recently “rediscovered” in a library in Kiev, Ukraine. They were spirited away from the Berlin, Germany, Sing-Akademie archive by Soviet troops during World War II, and no one in the music world knew where they were for over fifty years. (A few years ago, I was also part of the Handel and Haydn Society’s performances at Boston’s Symphony Hall of a large cantata by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann’s second son. This was another part of the large cache of “lost” works found in Kiev. Four of us from H and H performed on a WGBH-TV feature about the project.)
Racing from our “dream-like” early AM Telemann performance, I joined colleagues from the NFA Historical Flutes Committees as a Clinician in our 9AM “Bebe Baroque” session in which we introduced “modern” flutists to the Baroque traverso. We lugged traversi from all over the country, garnered “loaners” from generous exhibitors, and ended up with about thirty flutes to lend to eager early flute neophytes. Dr. Jan Boland, from Red Cedar Music in Iowa, Michael Lynn, Associate Dean and Professor at Oberlin, and Dr. Linda Pereksta, Assistant Professor at University of Wisconsin, and I gave a quick lesson in flute position, embouchure, beginning fingerings, tips on sound and articulation, and more. It was a big success. Thanks to my Berklee students Wei Jing and Javier for their help with the Powerpoint and the flute sign-outs!
Speaking of which, it was great to hang out for dinner at Junior’s and at the Exhibits with Wei Jing (Performance and Music Business Major) and Javier (Pro Music and Songwriting Major). And, to meet Jackie Ware’s mother who was accompanying her while she looked for a new piccolo. Jackie is a Voice Principal and Performance Major, but also a talented flutist and member of the Berklee Flute Choir. Visiting the (nearly 100?) Exhibits was a wonderful opportunity for me to find new music for the Berklee Flute Choir, which I have directed for over twenty years, and for my Advanced Woodwind Ensemble’s performances at the Gala, in David Friend Recital Hall, and for local Senior Citizens.
Other notable events included performances by so many wonderful colleagues……the “NOLA Concerto for various flutes”, with Mattias Ziegler performing on flutes including the contra-bass, and with electronics and orchestra, my Ecuador/USA friend Martha Councell’s performance of Paquita D’Rivera tunes, Paquito’s concert with the Imani Winds, my colleagues Anne Briggs and Sandra Miller’s Telemann duets, hearing my Croatian friend Ivan Zahirovic’s Croatian repertoire, attending Celtic, Baroque, Renaissance, Venezuelan flute choir, lots of piccolo events, participating in the Cultural Outreach Committee’s meeting (I’m a former Chair), and so much more…..
Thanks to the Woodwind Department and the Professional Performance Division for helping to make possible my participation in the largest flute convention ever!
Wendy Rolfe, D.M.A., Professor, Woodwind Department