CAFE (Central Arizona Flute Ensemble) is a seven-member flute choir based in Phoenix, Arizona. Founded in 2007, CAFE specializes in performances for audiences in all types of senior communities. Over the last year and a half, the group has entertained and educated audiences in over twenty venues all over the valley of the sun.
Playing instruments that range from the traditional piccolo to the distinctive 10-foot long contrabass flute, CAFE musicians produce a spectrum of styles and textures that surprise and enthrall audiences. Programs include marches, ragtime music, “golden oldies,” jazz standards, familiar classical arrangements, and seasonal favorites.
One of the ways CAFE performances differ from traditional concerts is audience participation. There are no printed programs, so performers introduce the music. Listeners play “name that tune,” are encouraged to sing or clap along. CAFE’s program also includes a question/answer period when the audience can inquire about the group, instruments, or music. “It’s one of my favorite parts of our program,” says CAFE manager Leslie Etzel. “While many questions are asked frequently, there is always an unexpected question that I have to think about before answering.”
Here are some of the most common questions and responses, plus the most unusual one.
How long have you played together?
We’ve been playing together in various groups and combinations since 1994, but we created CAFE in 2007 because we love performing on our “specialty flutes.” Most of us connected through the Arizona Flute Society. There are only three contrabass flutes in Arizona, so the opportunity to showcase it in a small ensemble was too good to pass up!
Is it proper to say flutist or flautist?
The humorous answer is that you can be called a flautist if your flute is worth more than $8,000. (The exact number has increased over the years!) The British use the term frequently, but the word sounds pretentious to the American ear. The origin is Italian, but since there is no instrument called the “flaut,” we CAFE members call ourselves flutists. Virtuoso flutist Sir James Galway said it this way, "I am a flute player, not a flautist. I don’t have a flaut, and I’ve never flauted."
Why are there seven flutists in CAFE?
Traditional flute choir arrangements are scored for six parts: typically piccolo, 3 C-flutes, 1 alto flute, and 1 bass flute. When the contrabass flute became more accessible and affordable in the early 2000's, musicians discovered that incorporating a contrabass into the traditional ensemble enormously expanded the textural possibilities. In fact, contemporary arrangers/composers began to highlight the contrabass sound in their pieces by writing solos and including exposed passages for the instrument.