Saturday, September 27, 2014

Roberto Alvarez Interview

Classical music may be considered an art form that is, well, not "fun," but rather "serious."  Is this true?  Many disagree, and with good reason.  Powell artist Roberto Alvarez sheds light on this topic in his very jovial, inspiring, and engaging manner in this interview with Glen Oliver for Sound Off Asia.  Make sure to watch the entire interview, because at the very end, Mr. Alvarez also shares advice for the future generation of musicians...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tools of the Trade with Aldo Baerten

We all know that flutists are different and have various preferences when it comes their flutes.  That being said, we are starting a series of posts here with Powell artists and players, highlighting the specs and options of their particular "tools of the trade." 

We begin with Powell artist Aldo Baerten, who prefers Powell Custom gold flutes.  He feels that gold flutes “blend well, have loaaaaaaaaaaaaaaads of colors, and are sooooooooooooooo beautiful to see!”  Aldo eventually discovered the Venti  headjoint, which was designed in collaboration with fellow Powell artist Paul Edmund-Davies.  He chose the Venti for himself because he admired the design and commented that  it has “a lot of depth and richness.” 

As for options, Aldo 's choices are offset G, split-E, and C# trill. He says:
I have offset G, because it fits my hands better. I only had one flute inline, and I always had pain in my hands and arms. So, I’m definitely an offset G player, but that is of course a very personal thing!
I am also a split E person!  I think it is so good.  Why would you make it complex?  The E mechanism is ideal for making the top E round, more in tune, speaking better and being more beautiful. .................... I NEVER played a flute without it and probably never will! It is great!  Mine has a c sharp trill, which helps some trills and fingerings, but it is not totally necessary!  You can live without it, and I have had flutes without it...but it IS a great invention!
Flutes need to make you play the way you want and feel, and mine does – definitely! Colours should flow, articulation should work, and you should be able to express what you want and feel.....
For more information on Aldo Baerten, click here to visit his Powell artist page and here for his website.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thoughts on Split-E: Morgann Davis

Morgann Davis performing with sttuden.
In last week's Flute Builder blog post, we took a closer look at the split-E mechanism option, focusing on mechanical differences in its construction.  But what differences do flute performing and teaching artists note?  Well, we thought it might be an interesting question for our professional players and will have a series of posts on their equipment options.  This week, we begin with Powell player Morgann Davis, who shares her thoughts particularly in reference to her experiences teaching young students:
In regards to student flutes with split-E mechanisms, most of my beginners have flutes without. I don't find it too difficult to learn high E for my young students, but I am careful not to give them the hint that E is a hard note. We treat it just like any other high note, and address any problems in producing it by analyzing what is happening with their air and embouchure. Many young flutists begin on a "hand-me-down" flute, and frequently the flute hasn't been cleaned or repaired for many, many years. Occasionally when a young student is really struggling in a particular register, it may be that their flute needs to be seen by a repairman.  
Through my experiences, my preference has become that students learn on a flute that doesn't have one. I'd like for them to learn to produce their best effort without the assistance of the mechanism. If, when they are ready to purchase a new flute, they find through trials that a split E feels better, I believe that is a good time to use it. Certainly each person is different, and for some, the mechanism will not feel like a good fit. Occasionally students will want the split-E because they feel it will fix their high E problems. It's especially important for these students to try flutes with and without the mechanism, and for them to analyze what is different about the Es on both. If you're not used to having it and are switching, you might notice that you can feel the extra mechanism on your right hand and have to adjust your position a bit. Also, since the high Es are easier with the split-E mechanism, you may need to work harder at keeping them from "popping" out if you are used to having to do some extra work to play a good E. I've never owned a flute with a split-E, so I find the right hand feels "clunky" on flutes that have one. Again, each of us is different, and that's certainly just based on what feels comfortable for my hand position. 
For more on Morgann Davis, visit her website and Facebook pages: 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Road to Portugal - An Interview with Katharine Rawdon

By Rebecca Weissman
Communications Director, Verne Q. Powell Flutes, Inc.

Katharine Rawdon
Last week, we had the pleasure of speaking with Powell player Katharine Rawdon during her visit to the Powell office in Mayanrd, Massachusetts.  Katharine is a California native and is currently living in Portugal, where she is Principal Flute of the Orquestra Sinfonica Portuguesa.  We were curious to learn more about the path that led Ms. Rawdon to Portugal and discovered that her experience with European countries and cultures began after she completed her undergraduate studies at Pomona College.  Katharine was awarded the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship based on her proposal to study the “Woodwind Performance Styles in the Major European Orchestras,” which was a topic she conceptualized and finalized under the guidance of some of her professors.  She was first chosen for the Watson Fellowship program within her college and then went through the national process, where she was selected to study her proposed topic.

Katharine told us that she “grew up on the Beethoven symphony recordings with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra” when James Galway was Principal Flute.  At the time she prepared to embark on her study of the European orchestras, Galway had been out Berlin for about seven years, but his legacy carried through in the recordings.  She hadn’t expected to see too much diversity from orchestra to orchestra, yet her findings during the fellowship year were quite different.  She shared, “Every culture has a very different idea about everything, including the function of music in society,” adding, “the study was essentially a sociological story within the construct of music.”  During the study, Katharine noted one could “hear immediately that he approach of each orchestra was different,” and this was apparent within the woodwind sections as well.

Ms. Rawdon’s study took place in the 1980s and was one-year in length, but it was only the beginning of her time in Europe.  She returned to the United States, where she completed her Masters in Music at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM). She also performed in the National Orchestral Association (NOA) Orchestra for one year, after which she joined the Manhattan Wind Quintet with fellow classmates from MSM.  When Katharine was a member of the NOA Orchestra, the ensemble was led by a Portuguese conductor.  The conductor later organized his own orchestra in Portugal and extended an invitation to Katharine and the entire Manhattan Wind Quintet to serve as the core players in the orchestra’s woodwind section.  Although this particular assignment was only supposed to last 6 months, Ms. Rawdon became very fond of the Portuguese culture and the environment, which led to additional teaching and performance engagements. 

We enjoyed our visit with Katharine and encourage you to read her previous post on this blog, “Technique vs. Expression,” which you can view by clickinghere to follow the link.