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News from Desert Echoes Flute Project


It was a summer of fun with the flute choirs of DEFproject rehearsing music for the July 28th Concert. It was summer and the music was adventurous and so the concert was “A Summer Adventure” with terrific, colorful promotional artwork by Zane Ioli and colorful attire on stage to match.

DEF Community Flute Choir (CFC) welcomed quite a few new high school students this summer in addition to some new and returning adult members. The group almost doubled in size with 30 flutists involved. Everyone worked well together and we really enjoyed the rehearsal process. The concert opener and our first adventure was “Adventure in Space” by Ricky Lombardo. We musically journeyed from earth, did some moonwalkin’, and went in search of Plutonians before our reentry. I was thrilled that we could use Eb soprano flutes on our journey. Collectively, we have six of these unique and adorable instruments and it was delightful to add their timbre to this orchestration. Many of us heard “Beckett’s Whisper” by Ron Korb at the 2016 NFA Convention and it was a perfect contrast to the rest of the program with it’s lovely and relaxed melodic material. Molnar-Suhajda’s “Greek Tableaux” took our adventure way back in time to the era of mythology and Pan, Endymion, and Pegasus. That winged horse flew fast in the closing movement of these Tone Sketches for Flute Choir.

The DEF CFC program was an unplanned nod to DEFproject from its first two years. The original DEFproject was founded in 2006 and the first summer concert featured “Greek Tableaux.” The group was invited to play at the 2007 NFA Convention in Albuquerque and performed “Adventures in Space.”

The DEFproject portion of the concert opened with the elegant and joyful “Gloria” by Vivaldi, arr.

by Nancy Nourse and included the above-mentioned Eb flutes. A giant leap forward in compositional time brought the centerpiece of DEFproject’s program, “Symphony in Silver” by Daniel Kessler. This is a spectacular, masterful, and sophisticated composition in three through-composed movements with many parts. There were only two players per part and the performance of this challenging work was excellent. The audience reception was enthusiastic and I am looking forward to programming more pieces by this outstanding composer.

We had a lot of fun with the next three pieces. Kahkonen’s “Summertime Romp” featured two piccolo players, Linda Bailey and Alan Tomasetti, many meter changes and interesting note groupings. It was a pleasure to play along with the fast “Calliope Capers” by Ladd McIntosh and the Rimsky-Korsakov “Dance of the Tumblers” arr. By Shaul Ben-Meir.

Interestingly, I had worked with Ladd McIntosh a long time ago when he was the director of the top jazz band I played in at a Summer Jazz Workshop at MCC. There’s a circle completed out there somewhere…

I ambitiously selected the Saint-Saens “Bacchanale” from Samson and Delilah to close the concert with both flute choirs combined. We rehearsed separately and played it together only once about an hour before the concert started. I’ll admit I was just a touch anxious about our second run-through, which was the actual concert performance, but it held together and was an excellent performance. Chris Canby joined the group playing timpani and it made all the difference. The energy and sound was incredible and the audience reaction was amazing! I liked it so much that I asked our video editor, Jeff McKeehan, to create an excerpt that I will post soon on our Facebook page (facebook.com/DEFproject). I particularly like the section with the low flutes and timpani before the upper flutes enter again. I don’t think we’ll be able to top that one for an exciting concert closer.

We just started rehearsals for our upcoming concerts and I am so very happy to welcome new DEFproject members Lisa Dektor, Samantha Hammit, Lisa Munoz, and Jenny Goode. CFC has enjoyed meeting some new and returning flute friends to the ensemble and I am very excited about the possibilities for both large flute choirs. The small DEF Chamber Choir has been reading some very difficult repertoire for future reference. It’s wonderful to be able to hear pieces in our library that I haven’t actually heard before.

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about the DEFproject flute choirs. It’s not too late to join for the fall and you can contact me if you are interested in joining the Community Flute Choir or auditioning for DEFproject in the future, or would like information about scheduling a performance.

We are in the process of revising our online presentations and selections from the summer concert and the “Wind“concert from last May should by uploaded to our YouTube channel in the near future. There are lots of other wonderful pieces and performances to enjoy in the meantime, including the world premiere of Molnar-Suhajda’s “Paths of Deeper Gold” from our 10th anniversary celebration a year ago. If you haven’t done so already, please search for our channel on YouTube and subscribe.

When this flute choir adventure began, I had no idea we would be where we are now and could not have imagined three wonderful and very different flute choirs and all the fabulous music and experiences we have shared together. I am curious and excited about our future projects. Several leading composers are interested in writing for DEFproject and there should be some more world premiere performances in the future.

The next concert is in October on Friday the 13th at 7:30 pm and it will be a bit spooky with Avinee’s “Le Chateau Hante,” Cohen’s “Danse Mysteres,” “Of Wizards and Witches” by Phyllis Louke, “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter, and “Funeral March for a Marionette” featuring DEFproject member Jim Turner on bassoon!

Non-spooky repertoire will be Sorrentino’s “Doppia Dimensione,” Dorff’s “Fireworks for Flute Orchestra,” “Flight” by Sellers, the Rachmaniniff “Adagio, Op 27,” and Burnette’s “Scenes from England.” Our combined flute choirs will close the concert with Guidobaldi’s “Tarantella.”

DEFproject is Arizona’s premiere flute ensemble program and encompasses the original flute choir known as DEFproject, the small DEF Chamber Choir and the DEF Community Flute Choir. Contact Music Director, Christina Steffen, for information on joining our family of flutists at christinajsteffen@gmail.com.

Save the Concert Dates:

Friday, October 13, 2017, 7:30pm at the MCC PAC

Friday, December 8, 2017, 7:30pm at the MCC PAC

Friday, March 2, 2018, 7:30pm at the MCC PAC

Saturday, April 28, 2018, 7:30pm at the MCC PAC

The MCC Performing Arts Center is located at 1520 S. Longmore in Mesa.


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