Thursday, June 30, 2016

Action Moves People United

By  Lois Herbine

Last month, I recorded a single solo flute track as a contribution to the Action Moves People United project, sponsored by the United Nations, UNESCO.

I played an improvisation realized by pianist Catherine Marie Charlton. Both the flute and piano accompany a poem entitled I Cried by Karelle Wade, which is about war and unity, spoken in the perspective of new parents.

Action Moves People United CD
This project is a CD compiled of poetry and prose tracks, read by spoken word artists and accompanied by musical instrumentation. The central message is world peace through a call to action to promote positive change. Catherine’s improvisation was influenced by the text. The music starts remotely and builds in strength and resolve as the poem first laments the problems in the world and then finds hope in the future. It is read in Cuban/ Spanish by Kenya Autie and in English by Alex Metnick.

My Preparation
Catherine recorded her piano contribution separately and then uploaded her audio file onto a sharing service so I could download both her part and the spoken word file and play through my computer and speaker while I practiced.

As a classical flutist I prefer to read a part instead of improvising it, so Catherine composed the flute solo by recording a separate track, and then I transcribed it using music writing software.
Following the flow of the text, I began the flute softly playing triplets against the piano’s duplets to provide an unsettled feeling. Then as the voice become more confident, so did my flute by getting fuller in sonority then popping the octave while the piano part filled out by adding chords in the left hand. I practiced in the style of an improvisation, sometimes using rubato to pull away from and then rush to sync up with the piano.

Recording Day
I spent an hour at Eastroom recording studio where recording engineer Drew Taurisano placed the piano track through the one sided headphone and recorded my flute playing against it. Using the headphones in this way allows me to hear my part clearly, while fitting it in with piano. This gives me the ability to assess subtle color changes in the sound. After Drew submitted the raw flute file that afternoon, one of our producers, Rupam Sarmah of India, compiled the music tracks and sent the recordings back to the spoken word artists to rerecord, as the music will naturally propel the expression of the voice.

You might be wondering why the producers selected a classical flutist to play an improvisation? One of the plans for the album – and eventual film – is to pair up artists from different genres and around the globe for collaborations that go beyond politics, religion, and borders. Other flutists that will be joining me on this musical journey for peace are new age flutist Wouter Kellerman from South Africa and Powell artist and rocker Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull fame.

Live Concert and CD Release
The album is available for pre-sale during the Nelson Mandela International Day festivities in Washington, D.C., July 15 through 18, 2016.  As part of this celebration, I will be performing with an African band, Sharon Katz and the Peace Train, and an American Roots artist, Grant Maloy Smith, at the Washington Monument on July 17, 2016.  For concert information, visit Lois Herbine’s blog or events page

Some of the other collaborating artists on this project are Julian Lennon, Kathy Sledge, Annie Haslam, John Wetton, Patrick Moraz, Dan Aykroyd, Tony Levin, Steve Walsh, Ricky Kej, Amy Otley, and Janice Ian. Action Moves People United is produced by Kevin Mackie, Krista Wallhagen, and Rupam Sarmah.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Building Confidence

By Cynthia Ellis

It would be naive to pretend there is no such thing as 'performance nerves'. I experience that pre-performance feeling as pure excitement: nervousness is always viewed as something negative, whereas excitement is quite positive. Our performances are enhanced by adrenaline: that is the 'secret sauce' of many a performance which can transport us to the next level.  But what about the students who are hit with debilitating nerves? First of all, thorough preparation is a MUST. It goes without saying that the musical aspects of the piece must be in control for confident performances. The preparation must be consistent and thorough. Learning to perform is another part of this process: have students perform at nursing homes, for family and friends, for other students, in short, ANY warm body is a potential audience member!  These impromptu performances must happen more than once a week so that the performance itself becomes a little more routine. The art of keeping centered and composed when being in front of others takes time to develop. Help students develop a pre-performance routine, which helps build self-comforting skills. Make sure students are reading about the psychological aspects of performance (Don Greene has an excellent website and there are many books on the topic). Remind your students that this too is a process.....and to paraphrase Jeanne Baxtreser, former principal flute of the NYPO, as long as the butterflies fly in formation, it is all good.

*Note - This article first appeared on the "Teaching Tips" section of Cindy Ellis's website.

For more on Cindy, visit her Powell artist profile page, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Winning Choice

Anushka Malhotra

For flutist Anushka Malhotra, a junior at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, the choice of a new flute was most definitely a winning one.  Anushka has been studying with Powell artist Lois Herbine for just over a year, and within the first three months of 2016, her accomplishments are certainly something to celebrate!

Anushka's family purchased her new Powell Sonaré PS-705 with KT headjoint from Windworks Studio of Philadelphia in October 2015.  In December, Anushka placed at the Pennsylvania Music Educators District 11 audition.  Jeremy Correnti, Anushka's band director at Germantown Academy, was present for the sight-reading portion of her audition and commented, "I was particularly impressed with her sound, which gave her an incredible presence in the audition room.  A tone like that will definitely get the judge's attention."

Anushka performed in the Pennsylvania District Band Festival on January 28, 2016.  In March, success came once again as Anushka placed first in the senior division of the Flute Society of Greater Philadelphia's Young Artist Competition.  Lois Herbine shared, "Anushka has developed a beautiful tone over the last few months since getting her new Sonaré flute.  She is a quick learner with a lot of potential, and she absolutely loves her flute.”

Powell introduced the KT headjoint in August 2015 as one of two new professional options for the Powell Sonaré PS-705 model (a C# trill key was the other new option). The KT headjoint is a Powell Signature headjoint made of 9k tubing with a sterling silver wall and Aurumite 9k lip plate. Powell's patented Aurumite material consists of one layer of gold and one of silver.  Aurumite 9k, specifically, has an outer layer of 9k rose gold and an inner layer of sterling silver.  Clickhere to read more about the KT Aurumite 9k Signature headjoint on our Flute Builder blog.

KT Aurumite 9k Signature headjoint