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Metropolitan Flute Orchestra Tours Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic 2014

The Metropolitan Flute Orchestra concert tour to Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic was a resounding success, with concerts in Budapest, Hungary; Krakow, Poland, Kromeriz and Prague in the Czech Rebuplic. With a theme of “A Bohemian Flute Rhapsody”, the ensemble performed beautiful music representing the countries we visited, including von Suppe’s Pique Dame Overture, Liszt’s ethereal Angelus! Prayer to the Guardian Angels, and the exciting Danse Slav by Chabrier. Two well known and loved classics, Dvorak’s final movement from the “New World” Symphony and Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No 2, captivated audiences everywhere. In addition, audiences were treated to American music with a jazzy rendition of two spirituals, Eventide Soliloquy by director Paige Long and Cohen’s L’Esprit des Petits Enfants. Each concert venue was filled to capacity, with some concerts having standing room only.

To an enthusiastic audience of over 1,100 in the historic St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, the Metropolitan Flute Orchestra’s opening concert was a benefit concert, raising money for a Hungarian children’s charity. To be selected to perform in such a magnificent venue, with an overflowing audience, was an incredible start to the concert tour.


Metropolitan Flute Orchestra in concert at St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest, Hungary


Audience is arriving for Metropolitan Flute Orchestra concert at St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest, Hungary

Next the ensemble headed to Krakow where we performed with Polish flutists in the Renaissance Room of the Polonia House, in the old city center. There is a permanent exhibition of posters, photographs and memorabilia connected with Frederic Chopin in the Polonia House. It was great fun meeting and performing with Polish flute professor Renata Guzik from the Academy of Music in Krakow.

The Palace of the Archbishop’s in Kromeriz, Czech Republic, the third concert venue, is a majestic palace steeped in history. In this palace Emperor Franz Joseph 1 took over the throne, Russian tsars and Austrian emperors held strategic conferences, and visiting dignitaries have stayed, including Pope John Paul II. The large, ornate concert hall, where the Metropolitan Flute Orchestra performed, was used in the filming of the movie Amadeus. In addition to the incredible rooms of the palace, the sculptured lawns and gardens were beautiful.


Metropolitan Flute Orchestra sound check before concert in the Palace of the Archbishop's in Kromeriz, Czech Republic


Metropolitan Flute Orchestra in one of the gardens of the Palace of the Archbishop's in Kromeriz, Czech Republic

In Prague’s Old Town Square, just steps away from the famous astronomical clock, is the beautiful St. Nicholas Church, where the ensemble played the final concert of the 2014 concert tour. With resounding standing ovations at the end of every concert, audiences keep asking to hear more music. The sound of this spontaneous applause is music to the ears of the flutists in the Metropolitan Flute Orchestra. This truly was an incredible “Bohemian Flute Rhapsody”!

Symphony No 9 in E Minor, opus 95 “from the New World”
Antonin Dvorak

Cover for New World Symphony for flute orchestra.Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No 9 in E Minor, opus 95 “from the New World” is perhaps this Bohemian composer’s most well known and loved composition. Premiered at Carnegie Hall on December 16, 1893, the “New World” Symphony was the first work Dvorak completed during his 2½ year stay in America or his “new world.”

In 1888, wealthy American arts patron, Jeannette Meyer Thurber, founded the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. In 1891, Thurber’s wish was to find a musical director for the conservatory with an international reputation. Many American musicians were very interested in the position, but American music had not yet developed a global reputation. So, Thurber invited Antonin Dvorak to become the director of the conservatory. At the time, Dvorak was a music professor at the Prague Conservatory in Austria-Hungary, which is now known as the Czech Republic. In 1892, Dvorak accepted the position as the director of the National Music Conservatory, which was the forerunner of what we today know as The Juilliard School.

While in New York, Dvorak began composing works with a distinct American flavor. Using melodies and motifs reminiscent of American folk tunes, Dvorak masterfully created the famous Symphony No 9, “New World.” This began a legacy to a style of music that was distinctly American.

The Allegro con fuoco, the fourth and final movement of the “New World” Symphony, is originally scored for full symphonic orchestra. Although the orchestral work does not include piccolo, this flute choir arrangement uses piccolo to cover the very high passages of the first violin section.

In some of the parts, you will notice a small harmonic marking. These indicate sections where strings are playing harmonics in the original work. Harmonics played by flutes are quite a bit different than harmonics played by strings. Flutists should play very softly, with no vibrato, using a thin, shimmery tone color during these indicated harmonic passages.

Scored for piccolo, flutes 1-4, alto flute, bass flute with optional contrabass flute, this arrangement is crafted for flute ensembles of many sizes. For large flute choirs, the divisi sections create the lush harmonic texture found in the original work. Smaller flute choirs will also enjoy performing this treasured work by simply using the top notes of divisi sections.

On July, 20, 2014, the Metropolitan Flute Orchestra, in summer residence at New England Conservatory, premiered the flute orchestra arrangement of Dvorak’s Allegro con fuoco from the New World Symphony. Director Paige Dashner Long created this arrangement for the ensemble’s 2014 concert tour to Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic.

 

Kindersymphonie in C Major, "Toy Symphony"
Franz Joseph Haydn

Cover for Haydn Toy Symphony for flute orchestra.For over 200 years, Haydn’s charming composition Kindersymphonie in C Major, also known as the “Toy Symphony”, has delighted audiences and musicians of all ages. There is much confusion and speculation about who actually composed the Toy Symphony. One might say Leopold Mozart; another might say it was Haydn’s brother Michael; still others might claim it was an Austrian monk, Edmund Angerer. An imaginative story was concocted that Haydn composed this work after purchasing several toys at a fair while visiting Berchtesgaden, Bavaria in 1788. It is suggested that Haydn wanted to entertain the children at Esterhaza, where he was employed by Prince Esterhazy of Hungary. Regardless, this three movement divertimento for toys amuses all who experience it.

The “toy” instruments heard in this work are trumpet, tenor drum, cuckoo, nightingale, rattle, and triangle with a surprise appearance of a quail in the trio section of the Menuetto. Most well-equipped percussion departments have these instruments readily available. It is also possible to find these “toy” instruments at a store that sells percussion instruments. The drum should not have a snare. A wooden ratchet is recommended, as it is visually great fun to see the wooden ratchet whirling in the air, rather than seeing someone cranking on a metal ratchet. The cuckoo may be played on recorder, wooden whistle, cuckoo bird call whistle or ceramic bird. Since these cuckoo instruments can be soft spoken, it is certainly fine to use two cuckoos. It also works well to use two nightingales. The trumpet part may be played using a toy trumpet or a real trumpet. In either case, the trumpet must play the pitch of concert G. Although there is not a separate contrabass flute part, the contrabass flutes should play the bass flute part. (They shouldn’t miss out on the fun!)

The flute orchestra arrangement of Haydn’s Toy Symphony was premiered by The New England Conservatory Summer Metropolitan Flute Festival Orchestra in July of 2013. For the premiere, the arranger of this flute orchestra piece, Paige Long, was not only the conductor, but the surprise quail in the Menuetto. It was an amusing surprise for the audience to see the conductor become a toy quail in the middle of the piece. Conductors, if you choose to do this, memorize the short little quail part and hide the quail whistle until it is time to play it. During the trio section, turn and face the audience, as you play the quail part.

Haydn’s Toy Symphony is the perfect piece to have some serious musical fun!

 

Symphony No 41 in C Major, K. 551, “Jupiter”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The history of Mozart’s magnificent Symphony No 41 in C Major, K. 551, “Jupiter” is shaded with mystery and speculation. Some believe that Mozart composed his final symphony, “Jupiter” during the summer of 1778, along with Symphonies No. 39 in Eb and 40 in G Minor. Others debate that this scenario has no proof and is highly unlikely. A major symphonic work during this time was typically commissioned by royalty or a wealthy patron. Some people believe that it would not have been possible for Mozart to compose not only one, but three major symphonies, in such a short time period. It is also known that Mozart was facing serious health and financial issues during this time frame. This further supports those who think that perhaps his 41st  Symphony was composed much earlier and not completed until the summer of 1778. Even the origin of the nickname “Jupiter” is questioned. What is certain is that Mozart did not name this symphony “Jupiter.” Some claim that Haydn’s friend and impresario Johann Peter Salomon coined the nickname. Others say that it was Mozart’s son Xavier or German pianist Johann Baptist Cramer who was responsible. 

Allegro vivace, the first movement of the Jupiter, is in sonata allegro form. After the tutti introduction of the main theme, with a lyrical, tentative melodic response, Mozart expanded and developed these musical ideas. Toward the end of the first movement, Mozart borrowed a melody from his aria “Un bacio di namo” K. 451 that he contributed for Pasquale Anfossi’s opera Le gelosie fortunate. This little aria melody twists and turns before the recapitulation of the beginning, majestic fanfare re-appears to complete the movement.

This arrangement is scored for Flutes 1-4, Alto Flute, Bass Flute, with optional Contrabass Flute. You will notice quite a few optional divisi sections in the Concert Flute parts, as well as the Alto Flute parts. It is possible to perform this arrangement with only one player per part, but the harmonic support for the Flute 3 melodic content will be missing. You will need two flutists on Flute 3 to best perform this arrangement. It is also nice if you have two players to cover the optional divisi on the Flute 4 and Alto Flute parts. Dedicated to the 2012 New England Conservatory Summer Metropolitan Flute Festival Orchestra, the Allegro vivace from Mozart’s 41st Symphony, “Jupiter” has a performance time of approximately 8 minutes without the optional repeat.

The cover photo is Salzburg, Austria, Mozart’s birthplace.

 

Sinfonia to Cantata No 29
J.S. Bach

J.S. Bach’s magnificent Sinfonia to Cantata No 29 “Wir danken dir Gott, wir danken dir” – “We thank you God; we thank you” was premiered in Leipzig, Germany to commemorate the inauguration of the Town Council, on Aug 27, 1731.  Originally the work was composed as the first movement of the Violin Partita #3 in E, BWV 1006.  Bach transferred this prelude to his partita for solo violin and created a joyous orchestral setting including 3 trumpets, two oboes, strings, continuo, timpani and solo organ to be used for the inauguration. Today, this ceremonial sinfonia is often performed by solo organ. 

The piccolo parts of this flute orchestra arrangement closely follow how an organist would perform the music.  An organ is comprised of several parts; the console, which holds the keyboards or manuals as well as the “stop” controls,  and the pedalboard.   A “stop” is a distinctive set of pipes or sounds generated by the organ.  Organists select what type of sound they want to create by choosing different combinations of stops, called registrations.  When an organist is performing this Bach Sinfonia on an instrument with more than one keyboard or manual, the organist will choose a bright, full registration on the main keyboard of the organ.  This main keyboard is known are the Great manual.  The organist will also select a softer registration on another manual, known as the Swell manual.  When the piccolo is playing, this would be similar to an organist playing on the Great manual.  When the piccolo has switched to concert flute, this would be similar to an organist playing on the Swell. 

This arrangement has very interesting textural and dynamic contrast, even though there are just a few dynamic markings in the parts and score.  In addition to the creative use of piccolo, the dynamics and textural contrasts are achieved through the thoughtful scoring of different flute parts playing in various registers of the flute range.  You will also notice an alternating dialogue between some of the flute parts.  For the exciting conclusion of the Sinfonia, play with as much energy and sound as musically possible.  An organist might say “Pull out all the stops!” 

This flute orchestra arrangement, premiered on July 26, 2009 by the New England Conservatory Summer Metropolitan Flute Festival Orchestra in New England Conservatory’s renowned Jordan Hall, is scored for Piccolo, Flute 1, Flute 2, Flute 3, Alto Flute and Bass Flute, with optional Contrabass Flute. Originally scored for chamber orchestra in D Major, Paige has arranged this work in C Major, showcasing the very bottom of the flute range.

Cover photo is a bronze statue of JS Bach, standing outside of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany.  The Sinfonia to Cantata No 29 was premiered in Leipzig, and Bach served as cantor and choir master at St. Thomas Church.

 

Metropolitan Flute Orchestra Tours Germany, Austria, and Slovakia, 2012

In July of 2012, flutists from the select ensemble of the Metropolitan Flute Orchestra presented an exciting concert tour, performing concerts in Munich, Germany; Hallstatt Austria; Bratislava, Slovakia and Vienna, Austria. Musical selections included works from German, Austrian and Slovakian composers, as well as American composers. The music was a wide variety of classics such as the Scherzo from Beethoven’s Symphony No 6, the first movement of Mozart’s Symphony No 41, “Jupiter”, Brahms Hungarian Dance No 5, Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance No 7, as well as Coleman’s Pontchartrain, ending in New Orleans jazz and traditional American shaker tune, Simple Gifts, sung by percussionist Elizabeth MacDonald. The crowd pleasing encores were eBow’s Ride the Matterhorn and Strauss II Tritsch-Tratsch Polka.

Within the ensemble on tour, there were three American composers: Jonathan Cohen in the contrabass section; Laurence Dresner in the percussion section and Paige Dashner Long as director and sub contrabass flute in G. The ensemble performed Cohen’s Notes From the Flock; Long’s award winning composition Eventide Soliloquy, as well as a new flute orchestra work by Dresner, Funk and Variations.

In Munich, the ensemble presented a joint concert with the Munchner Flotenensemble. (Munich Flute Ensemble) The ensembles performed separately, as well as joining together to perform the first movement of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Klengel’s Hymnus, Opus 57. The Mozart was arranged by the directors of the Munich Flute Ensemble Elisabeth Weinzierl and Edmund Wachter and the Klengel was arranged by Paige Long.

Next, the ensemble headed to Salzburg, Austria and the beautiful Salzkammergut district, the lakes region. The enthusiastic audience in the picturesque village of Hallstatt, Austria was one of the many highlights of the tour. Of course while in Salzburg, the MET toured the home where Mozart was born and visited the cathedral where Mozart was baptized, while enjoying the beautiful Austrian scenery.

At the Franciscan Church in the old city center of Bratislava, Slovakia, playing to a standing room only crowd, the ensemble performed a full concert, plus three encores. The audience kept asking for more.

Next the ensemble headed to the Austrian capitol of Vienna, the city known as the music capitol of the world. The final concert of the Metropolitan Flute Orchestra tour was presented in the rooftop concert hall of the historic St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.** The concert hall was sold out and the concert raised over $5,000 Euro (approx $6,300) for the restoration of the cathedral. Members of the ensemble were also able to walk outside of the rooftop hall and touch the famous diamond- patterned tile roof of the cathedral. What an incredible way to end a concert tour!

** The Gothic cathedral of St. Stephen’s is an historic and cultural landmark. The young Haydn was a choir boy for St. Stephen’s and both Mozart and Haydn were married at St. Stephen’s. Beethoven realized he was totally deaf when he could not hear the famous bells peal at St. Stephen’s and Mozart’s funeral was held in this historic cathedral.

Metropolitan Flute Orchestra in concert at the Franciscan Church in the old city center of Bratislava, Slovakia, 2012.

EVENTIDE SOLILOQUY ANNOUNCED WINNER
OF THE NATIONAL FLUTE ASSOCIATION'S NEWLY PUBLISHED MUSIC COMPETITION

Cover for eventide soliloquy. Eventide Soliloquy, by Paige Dashner Long, is an original composition that features each instrument of the flute family in a musical soliloquy. The piece showcases the beautiful colors of a flute orchestra as well as each different type of flute, in a variety of musical styles. Scored for piccolo, concert flutes 1-4, alto flute, bass flute with optional contrabass flute, this new work is a great addition to flute choir repertoire and is published by Falls House Press.

The inspiration and dedication of this piece is in loving memory of Sean Callan MacDonald, the composer’s son, who died unexpectedly August, 2010. Eventide Soliloquy is Sean's life in song. Life begins during a swirling January snowstorm as the alto flutes play a beautiful, gentle melody. The bass flutes answer in response before the entire ensemble joins in the beginning theme. The opening theme consists of the musical letters of Sean's name (E- A perfect 4th interval) Next, you will hear a very happy, bright theme, as you imagine an energetic child, Sean, skipping along enjoying life. As this allegro theme, gently slows, the contrabass/bass flute plays a mournful melody, depicting the sadness of a young teenager being diagnosed with a difficult disease, type 1 diabetes. Eight bars later, the piccolo enters the dialogue of the contrabass/bass soliloquy with a beautiful obbligato melody on top of the contrabass. These are tears of a mother, crying for her son. But, we get on with life and make the most of the precious time we have together. Next enters a jazzy blues section where you can see Sean smile and picture him improvising on his trombone. As the jazz slows, another beautiful melodic soliloquy, played by the concert flute and inspired by one of Sean’s favorite Mussorgsky themes, ends the work with a very calm and gentle melody, as Sean was such a gentle spirit.

Trained as a classical trombonist, music educator and jazz musician, Sean had a great sense of humor and a sparkling wit, with an amazing repertoire of original silly songs. He inspired hundreds of young musicians through his creative teaching approaches and lively performances. This piece celebrates Sean’s life, just as his presence here with us has touched our hearts. The Metropolitan Flute Orchestra, in summer residence at New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts, premiered Eventide Soliloquy during the 10th anniversary season of the New England Conservatory Summer Metropolitan Flute Festival. On July 24, 2011, at 5:00pm, in New England Conservatory’s historic Jordan Hall, the Metropolitan Flute Orchestra performed the premiere of Eventide Soliloquy. This is so fitting as Sean performed many concerts on the Jordan Hall stage during his brief life, as well as attending his mother’s concerts in Jordan Hall.

The cover picture of the Falls House Press publication is a moon rise over Flagler Beach in Florida, one of Sean’s favorite beaches.

At the end of the piece, the piccolo has an option of playing the final B an octave lower. If choosing the higher B, one might try the following optional fingering, which is very stable and easy to control. LH 1,2,3 RH 1,2,3 No L thumb or R pinky. Optional beginning ends at the third beat of measure 8. The work can simply begin with the alto flute solo at the pick up to measure 9.

Hymnus, Opus 57
Julius Klengel
(1859-1933)

Hymnus cover. German cellist and composer Julius Klengel’s Hymnus, Opus 57 is a lush, chordal spiritual, dedicated to the memory of Austro-Hungarian conductor Artur Nikisch. 

Born in Leipzig, Klengel began playing in orchestras at the young age of 15 and was appointed principal cellist of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra at the age of 22.  After touring in Europe and Russia, he became a well known and accomplished soloist.   Klengel was a professor at the Leipzig Conservatory and composed volumes of works for cello, including 4 cello concertos, 2 double cello concertos, cello quartets, 1 cello sonata, as well as various etudes and caprices.  It is also interesting that Klengel’s father was a friend of Felix Mendelssohn.

Originally scored for 12 cellos, this setting of Hymnus has very flexible instrumentation possibilities.  This work may be performed by an ensemble of all concert flutes, or all low flutes including an ensemble comprised of only alto flutes, only bass flutes or any combination of instrumentation. Included for each part is a setting in concert A for instruments in C, and on the reverse side of the page for each part, you will find a setting in concert D for instruments in G.  This beautiful work is published by Falls House Press.

With careful attention to the musical structure of this work, assigning parts is very interesting, fun and flexible.  You will notice three groupings of parts, as well as full sections with all parts playing.  After a full introduction from measures one through eight, Flutes 5-8 play a beautiful theme that is passed onto Flutes 1-5 at letter A.  Flutes 9-12 assist in the connective passage from measures twenty five through thirty two.  You will find another connective passage from Flutes 6-12, beginning at measure forty nine, before the entire ensemble joins in at letter B. 

If using a mixed ensemble of concert flutes, alto flutes, bass flutes and/or contra flutes, it is best to assign the alto, bass and contra flutes to the lower voices in parts 9-12.  It is also fine to keep all of the lower flutes on parts 11 and 12 or simply part 12.  Flute 5 has a unique role as, at times, flute 5 is the top voice in a section (measures nine through twenty five) and then flips to become the lower voice of a passage (measures thirty four through forty nine). 

Another nice possibility, if using all instruments in C (all concert flutes or concert flutes and bass flutes) is to have the C instruments read the instrument in G parts, playing Hymnus in concert D.  Obviously, this is only possible if you are not using alto flutes.  It is also fine to have an ensemble of all instruments in C play the concert A setting.  See which setting you prefer.  The concert A setting will be brighter, while the concert D setting will be darker.  If you have an ensemble of alto flutes, you can try the same.   If your ensemble is mixed, then you will need to play Hymnus in concert A. 

If you prefer melodic flutes playing in the middle register of the flute range rather than the upper register, please use the downloadable, alternate lowered flute parts for Flute 1, Flute 2 and Flute 5.   Alternate lowered parts may be found at the end of these program notes or on the Falls House Press website. 

In Flute 1, Flute 2, Flute 3 and Flute 5, you will find cued notes for the connective passages.  Depending on the size and instrumentation of your ensemble, these cued notes can be very helpful.  The little connective passages look innocent, but can be quite tricky to play musically. Shaping the musical phrase, so that the higher notes are more delicate than the lower notes, help these phrases come to life.  Within the connective passages, there are some beautiful harmonic tensions that are resolved at the end of the phrases.  (Connective passages can be found at measures twenty five through thirty one and measures forty nine through fifty five.)

Another unique possibility lies within Flutes 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12.  You will notice optional pizzicato.  When you see the marking pizz, you may choose to use tongue pizzicato; when you see the marking arco, return to normal tonguing.  This quasi-percussion effect possible on the flute is produced by fingering the notated pitch and producing a hard "T" with the tongue, while keeping your throat closed. Some flutists prefer to produce this sound with a forcible opening of the lips, or "lip pizzicato”.  I find it very helpful to think of the syllable “toop” for tongue pizzicato.  For fun, search the internet for “flute tongue pizzicato” and quite a few things pop up, including technical information as well as video.  Strauss’s Pizzicato Polka is a great piece for this technique.

Alto flutes might be surprised to see an optional low B. Alto flutists do not need a low B to play this arrangement. Although rather unusual, some alto flutes have a B foot. For those lucky alto flutists, enjoy the rare opportunity to play a few low B’s. 

The Florida Flute Orchestra premiered this setting of Klengel’s Hymnus during the 2012 Florida Flute Convention.

Alternative Klengel Hymnus parts (PDF):

 

Respighi’s Passo mezzo e Mascherada
From Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No 1
Arranged for flute ensemble by Paige Dashner Long

Respighi cover. Respighi’s Mascherada from Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No 1 is now available for flute ensemble, published by Falls House Press. The arrangement, premiered on July 25, 2010 by the New England Conservatory Summer Metropolitan Flute Festival Orchestra in New England Conservatory’s renowned Jordan Hall, is scored for Flute 1, Flute 2, Flute 3, Flute 4, Flute 5, Alto Flute and Bass Flute, with optional Contrabass Flute.

Ottorino Respighi (Bologna 1879- Rome 1936) was fascinated with early lute music, studying in particular the transcribed works of Oscar Chilesotti (1848-1916). Chilesotti transcribed several sixteenth and seventeenth century dances and airs for the lute. Respighi, a scholar of musical antiquity, choose several of these lovely ancient airs and dances, making three suites, each comprised of four movements. Using modern harmonies and orchestration, Respighi beautifully crafted these suites for chamber orchestra, each receiving enthusiastic response from audience and musicians. With a simple melodic line and rich orchestration, Respighi’s unique talent and skill are showcased in these spirited compositions.

Passo mezzo e Mascherada from Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No 1 is the fourth movement of his delightful first suite. You will notice two contrasting sections: a fast paced passo mezzo and a light Italian 16th century secular choral song (villanella) or mascherada, which was typically sung at masked balls.

With careful attention to dynamic contrast, articulation and tempi changes, Passo mezzo e Mascherada beautifully showcases the different colors of a flute ensemble.

Welcome to the masquerade ball!

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