Flute

Head joint upgrades, Part 1!

Are you feeling like your flute is letting you down? Do you feel you are ready for an instrument that can do what you can imagine doing? Are you looking to upgrade to a much better instrument—and yet, you don't have the funds for a whole new flute?

We've all been in this position, and the very best advice I can give you is to UPGRADE YOUR HEAD JOINT! The head joint of a flute is like the bow for a violin or cello—and believe me, our string-player friends spend a lot of time searching for a better bow, since it is so much more affordable than a better fiddle!

As long as the body of your flute is working well—and if it isn't, you should send it to Luthier Tomás Miranda right away!—then you can definitely make a huge positive impact in your performance by upgrading to a better head joint.

Which brings me to Powell and Powell's famous head joints: famous since 1927 for their response, flexibility and projection! I have in stock a wide selection of head joints, both Signature (a more accessible line which is still totally handmade) and Custom, in materials ranging from classic Silver, Grenadilla, Aurumite and Gold. There's literally something for everyone.

If you are interested, just contact me for a no-obligation trial, or attend the 5th Summer Flute Academy, where there will be oodles of stock available to try and buy.

 Gorgeous Powell head joints, waiting for you to find yours!

Gorgeous Powell head joints, waiting for you to find yours!

Pedro de Alcantara @ 5th Summer Flute Academy!!

Consider yourself invited to attend our 5th (!) Summer Flute Academy— it promises to be the biggest, craziest and most fun EVER! Don't come to sit there watching, you'll be there to play, play, play, and also do a little listening and lots of trying out of new ideas!

There is really TOO MUCH planned to list it all in one go, so I'll just start in with one hot-off-the press bit of news: Pedro de Alcantara, one of the world's best-known teachers of the Alexander Technique and a wildly creative person, will be present! I'm very excited to announce this as it is not easy to get Pedro, based in Paris, "down" to Portugal, not for lack of interest, but only because he's often busy working in exotic places such as Australia or Japan! 

Pedro is Brazilian, trained in the US and the UK as a cellist, and has lived and worked in Paris for quite some time. He is the author of "Indirect Procedures", a book about the Alexander Technique for musicians published by Oxford University Press, has released several CDs, including improvisations, and is also a writer of novels. Check out his site and blog!

But mostly, he is a wonderful, insightful and unique person, who will bring his own ideas on music-making to all of us at the Academy! Thank you, Pedro, for fitting us into your schedule! "Expect nothing, anticipate anything."

 Pedro de Alcantara, musician, writer, thinker, healer, creativity expert

Pedro de Alcantara, musician, writer, thinker, healer, creativity expert

ESART - Auditions Overflow with Talent!

It was an exciting, if long, day at ESART last Sunday! My wonderful colleague (and Powell player) Professor Stephanie Wagner and I listened to twenty candidates for the Bachelor's program (licenciatura) — this was a tie with last year's number, and the largest applicant group by instrument!

To the hopeful candidates performing for us, it is of course very stressful, but an important thing to know is that what any jury really wants to hear is GREAT PLAYING! We are "with you" out there on the stage, we've been there, too! Never think the jury just wants to toss people off the ship—it really is not like that!

And we were extremely pleased with the level of the young flutists! For someone who has been in Portugal for quite some time, you might say the level would have been unimaginable even 5-10 years back. Therefore, we congratulate the hard-working, dedicated teachers who have produced such fine young players!

Lastly, we thank all twenty flutists for making the effort to be there and putting out your best! Bravi tutti!!

 ESART Classe de Flauta Transversal, 2016-17 (with fun filters!)

ESART Classe de Flauta Transversal, 2016-17 (with fun filters!)

Welcome to ESART - a Dear Colleague!

This is only "news" because I was away from the blog for some time following the India tour: join me in welcoming to the Flute Faculty at ESART the wonderful and multifaceted flutist Stephanie Wagner! We will be team-teaching there, in Castelo Branco from here on out!

I am very honored that Stephanie is able to put her wide-ranging professional experience at the service of the class, with a complementary angle to mine! Together, we have already "produced" four editions of the Summer Flute Academy (which was her brainchild!) along with our terrific colleague Raquel Lima of ESMAE, so we are enjoying extending the collaboration throughout the school year!

Stephanie, a native of Lisbon, has held orchestral positions in Germany, performed piccolo with the London Symphony Orchestra, studied at the New England Conservatory in Boston, USA, and the Hochschüle in Munich, Germany. She has now been the flutist with the Remix Ensemble-Casa da Música in Porto for over ten years! You can check out all her activities on her site!

She is also a longtime Powell Flutes player, both C flute and the piccolo in the photo below! And she is the Portuguese rep for Kingma Flutes, playing the Kingma alto, bass and contrabass with Remix. We have a love for new music in common; composers should check out her "UnlimitedFlutes" project!

Anyway, this weekend we'll be doing a "flute marathon" with the ESART class—photos forthcoming!

 Powell Flutist Stephanie Wagner, with the smallest flute of her collection!

Powell Flutist Stephanie Wagner, with the smallest flute of her collection!

Lunch & News from Scherzo Editions!

Between rehearsals for Donizetti's opera based on the true story of Anne Boleyn, "Anna Bolena", I had a delightful lunch with João Vidinha, who is an outstanding flutist as well as the owner/founder of Scherzo Editions, the up-and-coming Portuguese music publisher/editor. 

It was, as always, great to catch up! Scherzo is "on a roll", having received a 1st Prize in the most recent "Newly Published Music" Competition of the (American) National Flute Association with "O motivo da menina laite" by André M. Santos for solo flute. This puts Scherzo on a par with renowned music publishers such as Theodor Presser and Universal Editions, which have been in existence for over 100 years!

I received my order for some of the latest items from Scherzo for flute, or flutes, and it was exciting to see Scherzo's catalog growing; it now includes works by Ricardo Matosinhos, Wilson Tanner Smith, Nuno Peixoto de Pinho, and two by Jorge F. P. Ramos—all of which come out of the Summer Flute Academy's Composition Competition! There are also works for flute by Sílva Mendonça, Fábio Cachão, Donald Yu, Sara Claro and others— you can check out the catalog on Scherzo's site. The composition talent in Portugal is second to none, and so is the publishing talent!

Scherzo Editions also has published all the commissioned works for the Young Musician's Prizes (Prémios Jovens Músicos) recently, and that adds a wonderful variety to the catalog as well.

Another day, another hat off! It's great to see well-executed entrepreneurial efforts based here in Lisbon—Portugal today; tomorrow, the world!

 João Vidinha of Scherzo Editions, holding a new work by Jorge F. P. Ramos

João Vidinha of Scherzo Editions, holding a new work by Jorge F. P. Ramos

CAROS COMPOSITORES: 4º Concurso de Composição está em curso!

Queridos e estimados compositores—queria também anunciar, agora em português, a 4ª Edição do Concurso de Composição para Flautas Transversais da Academia de Flauta de Verão! Temos duas categorias diferentes que achamos que vão vos inspirar:

1) OBRA A SOLO para uma das "low flutes": flauta em sol, flauta baixo, ou flauta contrabaixo.

2) QUINTETO para 5 flautistas com instrumentação flexível.

O nosso concurso está aberto à compositores de todas as idades e nacionalidades, e temos abertura para qualquer estilo de escrita. Estamos ansiosos para ver, tocar e ouvir o que vocês podem imaginar!

Obras que obtém um 1º Prémio terão estreia durante a 5ª Academia de Flauta de Verão em Julho de 2017 no Porto. Serão gravados em audio e vídeo, e serão publicado pelo notável Scherzo Editions, e há ainda um prémio monetário.

Nota-se que a Scherzo Editions já foi premiado pela National Flute Association em 2016, com um 1º Prémio para Obras Recém-Publicadas (Newly Published Music Competition)—BRAVO, Scherzo Editions, uma empresa 100% portuguesa!!

O Concurso conta com o apoio precioso da Powell Flutes, EUA e da Kingma Flutes da Holanda, da Scherzo Editions e ainda com a ajuda da ESMAE no Porto—OBRIGADA A TODOS!

O regulamento pode está no site da Academia de Flauta de Verão. A data limite é dia 20 de Março de 2017—por favor, ajudam a partilhar estas informações, obrigada!

DEAR COMPOSERS: 4th Competition underway!

Dear cherished composers: we are pleased to announce (again, better a little late than never) that the 4th Composition Competition of the Summer Flute Academy is underway! 

Our two categories this year are: 1) SOLO WORK for "low flute"—alto, bass or contrabass; and 2) QUINTET for a flexible group of five flutists. The competition is open to composers of all ages and nationalities. We are excited to see, play and hear what you send in, so set your imaginations free!

First prizes include a premier performance at the 5th Summer Flute Academy, recorded in video and audio, publication of the work by Scherzo Editions, and cash prizes. We are proud to be sponsored by Verne Q. Powell Flutes, USA, and Kingma Flutes in Holland, and supported by ESMAE and Scherzo Editions—thank you all!

All details can be found on the Summer Flute Academy (Academia de Flauta de Verão) site. Deadline for entries is March 20th, 2017. SPREAD THE WORD!

 Information available online in both English and Portuguese

Information available online in both English and Portuguese

Helianthus—a terrific ensemble!

What a pleasure to hear the Helianthus Ensemble at the Music Room of the Queluz Palace on Friday evening! Aside from the perfectly balanced combination of period instruments—late 18th Century— and the fact of the concert being in a "period" concert hall, as well, it was simply wonderful to hear great players enjoying playing together! 

The give-and-take of chamber music was present at every moment, whether it be in the cellist's delight in the bass line, or the violin's discreet agitation of sixteenths in an accompaniment passage giving way to "stealing" the tune from the flutist! The harpsichordist (it was really a cembalo, I believe, with metal strings but hammer-action rather than plucked—I need an expert to sort that out for me, please!) was duly discreet UNTIL it was his moment to shine. Which was actually a lot, especially in the Mozart Concerto Op. 107, with real Mozart cadenzas as a bonus!

My favorites were perhaps the Danzi, of wind quintet and Flute Concerto fame, and the Haydn Trio for Flute, Cello and piano/cembalo. For the flutist (Laura Pontecorvo, see previous blog!) both were full of fancy filigree and rhythmic gestures contrasting with the most expressive, soaring melodic lines. Ditto for the others; it was a sort of musical game of chess—pure Haydn-esque fun, and delightfully executed!

Bravo to the Helianthus members, and come back soon!

 Laura Pontecorvo, flute, Guido Morini, cembalo, Iskrena Yordanova, violin, and Marco Ceccato, cello— Helianthus Ensemble

Laura Pontecorvo, flute, Guido Morini, cembalo, Iskrena Yordanova, violin, and Marco Ceccato, cello—Helianthus Ensemble

Friday! At Queluz Palace - A Rare Chance to Hear a Classical-Period Flute!

How many times has you heard Mozart performed on the kind of flute that he actually wrote for? Not many, if you are like me! So this Friday, at 9.30pm you'll have a rare chance to hear his music, along with other galant and classical composers, performed by the Italian flutist Laura Pontecorvo, and her Helianthus Ensemble in the perfect setting at Queluz Palace, outside Lisbon.

Laura, a fantastic teacher and versatile performer of "early" flutes, will be performing on a copy of a Grenser flute that she found in the oddest way—read the story here! Kind of like finding a Stradivarius in your fire-wood pile…Such luck!! This flute has 5 keys, as opposed to the one-keyed baroque flute, and was a dominant instrument in the second half of the 18th Century.

In this concert, Laura will perform with her Helianthus colleagues Iskrena Yordanova, violin, Marco Ceccato, cello, and Guido Morini, harpsichord, in various formations from duo to quartet, and including music by Haydn and Danzi among others. So it is really a fantastic and rare opportunity to hear "Mozart's Flute" in its natural element, with other instruments of the same period, and performed by top-notch players! For more information on the program, click here!

After all, for all that we've heard about his not liking the flute, Mozart did not write a famous opera called "The Magic…Clarinet"!! 

 Laura Pontecorvo, founder of the  Helianthus Ensemble

Laura Pontecorvo, founder of the Helianthus Ensemble

POWELL DAY in LISBON - A gigantic success!

A week has passed, and I'm finally "back in the saddle" here with some news! Sorry—busy time of year!

Our first-ever POWELL DAY was a gigantic success! For the flutists who came by, nonstop all day long, there was a "feast" of flutes, piccolos and head joints to try out, two rooms and three "specialist" ears to listen attentively. Everyone had, I do believe, a blast trying out all the gear, and exploring the differences that the various head joint cuts, metals, weights, and so forth DO, IN FACT, make to the resulting sound. This permits each person to find their perfect match—so that they can become their own dream flutist!

Meanwhile, the folks from Boston, Daniel Sharp and Rebecca Eckles, were quite taken aback by the fantastic level of the flutists coming by. Yup! We're a small country on the map, but flute-wise, we are getting pretty darn BIG! It's been an exciting time and things are only getting better and better. It's always cool when "outsiders" confirm what we here feel—the BUZZ!

So I thank everyone who came by, it was a blast! And anyone who would like a follow-up session, or couldn't make it on that day, just contact me to set up a trial—there are still plenty of flutes (piccs and head joints) to try out!  

 The early risers on POWELL DAY, with Tiago Canto, Dina Hernandez, Vera Morais, Tomás Miranda, Daniel Sharp, Rebecca Eckles and a LOT of flutes!

The early risers on POWELL DAY, with Tiago Canto, Dina Hernandez, Vera Morais, Tomás Miranda, Daniel Sharp, Rebecca Eckles and a LOT of flutes!