Desert Echoes Flute Project at Mesa Community College enjoyed an amazing 10th anniversary all last year. The renowned group started their year of celebrations by adding an additional ensemble, the Community Flute Choir, which is available to adult and young adult flutists without an audition. The new flute choir meets on Wednesday evenings and they were introduced at the March concert, ‘Twice As Nice.’ The concert closed with the two flute choirs combined playing, appropriately, McMichael’s “Silver Celebration.” The May concert, “Canyon Dreams,’ featured another varied program.
The summer brought a gorgeous new work to their repertoire, “Paths of Deeper Gold” by Alexandra Molnar-Suhajda. It was commissioned to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of DEFproject and was written specifically for the flutists of DEF scored to include additional low flute parts and Eb soprano flutes. Grammy-award winner Bob Freedman also composed a new work for the occasion, “Awareness Incoming,” to feature soloists Christina Steffen on alto flute and Peter Sheridan on bass flute. Both works were premiered at the 10th Anniversary Celebration concert.
DEFproject and the DEF Chamber Choir were both selected to perform at the 2016 National Flute Association Convention in San Diego. Their concerts included many NFA premieres including Paths of Deeper Gold, Palermo’s “Divertimento”, Sorrentino’s “Settimino”, and Freedman’s “El Fuego de la Noche.” The members received many accolades on their outstanding performances, enjoyed seeing friends, meeting new flutists, and attending many concerts and classes. Following the DEF concerts, many of the DEFproject flutists made a big splash at Ocean Beach with internationally known flutist Viviana Guzman playing “Under the Sea” and the “Olympic Fanfare” on the pier. The video is available on YouTube and features some amazing aerial drone footage with the beautiful sounds of flutes and ocean waves.
The ‘Jazz Fling’ concert in October was all about jazz and featured guest alto saxophone soloist Hugh Lovelady on exclusive Freedman arrangements of “Wave” and “Misty.” The sound of the jazz soloist with rhythm section and flute choir was really cool and completely unique. A lovely couple in the audience was even dancing in the aisle! The DEFproject choirs wrapped up their 10th Anniversary season with the ‘DEF Jams’ concert. Members voted on their favorite pieces from the last ten years for this program and the music was beautiful. What were the top faves? 4th Kelly Via “Remembrances: Debussy,” 3rd Molnar-Suhajda “Serenade,” 2nd Smetana “Die Moldau,” and 1st Hirose “Songs of the Ocean.” The concert date coincided with the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor and DEF opened the second half of the concert with "Hymn to the Fallen" arranged to commemorate the occasion. Three flutists playing from the center of the hall created a hauntingly beautiful effect. This concert was a wonderful way to wrap up their 10th year. DEF started their 11th year hosting an Open House with Brannen Brothers Flutemakers on January 30th. Their next concert is ‘Unexpected Journeys’ on March 3rd at 7:30pm.
Desert Echoes Flute Project (DEFproject) is Arizona’s premiere flute ensemble organization. It was founded in 2006 by music director Christina Steffen and has become a nationally recognized flute choir selected to perform at four National Flute Association Conventions, The San Francisco International Flute Festival, and the renowned Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. The smaller DEF Chamber Choir began in the fall of 2011 and performs as a true chamber ensemble without a conductor. Members of both groups are selected through an audition process and include professional flutists, music educators, college students, and community musicians from the Phoenix metropolitan area. The ensembles have collaborated with other organizations for concerts and also provide community service programs. DEF flutists have also performed as trios, quartets, and octets for special events and functions. The newest ensemble is the Community Flute Choir, which brings together flutists of varying levels and ages (high school and older) without audition to enjoy playing music together.