Low Flutes on the Rise!
By Chris Potter
Alto, bass and contrabass flutes pose unique challenges in the areas of breath control, tonal response, intonation, transportation issues, sheer physical size and, locating appropriate quality repertoire. Resources are developing to help the growing number of low flutes players find solutions to these and other problems.
Here are examples of resources you can explore to find answers to your questions:
1) the Low Flutes Facebook group has 1700 members who are generous with their knowledge, experiences and recommendations – https://www.facebook.com/groups/458318884193142/
2) NFA conventions include a steadily increasing number of performances and workshops dealing with topics relevant to low flutes. 2019 will be the first year of an NFA Alto Flute Artist Competition. https://www.nfaonline.org
3) the International Low Flutes Festival in 2018 provided opportunities to meet and listen to low flutes players from around the world and, has a website with a list of recommended repertoire https://lowflutesfestival.org/suggested-repertoire/
4) the 2020 International Low Flutes Festival will be held in March near Tokyo, Japan. Information can be found at https://lowflutesfestival.org
5) for recommended brands to try, where to find instruments, music for alto and bass, a description of performance aids and, a listing of recommended low flutes repair people, go to https://chrispotterflute.com/alto-bass/
6) to have your questions answered personally, the Alto and Bass Flute Retreats – Chattanooga, Tennessee – May 29-June 2nd and Boulder, Colorado – June 19-23rd. https://chrispotterflute.com/alto-bass-flute-retreats/2019-retreats/
2019 will be the 15th year of Alto and Bass Flute Retreats. I have learned a lot in those 15 years: I created doors to go through, commissioned and premiered many low flutes pieces and, met terrific people. As the first chair of the NFA’s Low Flutes Committee, Director of the 1st International Low Flutes Festival, and Low Flutes Choir conductor at the James Galway Festival in Switzerland, I feel like the hub of a wheel connecting people from Japan, Iceland, Turkey, Australia and all points in between. You can also be a part of the world- wide community of low flutes players by connecting via Facebook or attending a Retreat or other event.
The Retreats provide an informal and friendly setting for players from 18 to 80 years old. No question is too fundamental, no concern too trivial. This year’s Retreats include workshops on Improving Breath Control and, Alternate Fingerings. As a group, we will work on provided exercises, share triumphs and try new fingerings to improve intonation and tonal response. Required books for the workshops are the Alto Flute Method for alto players, and the Bass Flute Method for bass players. These books are available from Flute Specialists and other flute-related businesses.
Chamber music is an integral part of the Retreats: participants are assigned parts in duets, trios, or quartets and a low flutes choir. Each chamber group receives at least two coaching sessions from Chris. You will be sent parts ahead of time to practice so you can be prepared for the Retreat.
Pieces to be performed this year include a trio arrangement of selections from the Corelli Christmas Eve Concerto, Le Rejouissance from the Suite in A Minor by Telemann, and Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker. A low flutes choir arrangement of White Christmas by Irving Berlin will be included as an audience sing-a-long at the closing concert. A piece by Jonathan Cohen will no doubt also be included: there are so many to choose from now!
Participant-led evening sight-reading sessions have proven very popular in the past. Participants bring their own music to share.
Deadline for applying for the Chattanooga Retreat is April 16th, for the Boulder Retreat the date is May 5th. Come and have fun!! https://chrispotterflute.com/alto-bass- flute-retreats/2019-retreats/
Dr. Christine Potter has performed in London, Paris, Mexico City, Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Washington D.C., and many other cities in the U.S. She is an internationally recognized alto and bass flute virtuoso and has performed at many conventions of the National Flute Association (NFA) as well as British Flute Society conventions. Chris was the first of Chair of the NFA’s Low Flutes Committee, and her CD Flute Menagerie features solo works for alto and bass. She has commissioned and premiered many works for alto and bass and organized an International Low Flutes Festival in 2018 attended by people around the world. 2019 will be her 15th year of organizing Alto and Bass Flute Retreats and her sixth year directing a low flutes choir at the Galway Festival in Switzerland. She has many published books through American and British publishers and her Winter Duets and Alto and Bass Flute Methods are available at www.flutespecialists.com