Monash Flute Ensemble performs Australian Premieres
On Friday September 24th- 2010, the Monash University Flute Ensemble performed two Australian premieres for multiple flutes. The first was the newly commissioned work by the US-based Alexandra Sudhaja Molnar, titled "Voices from the Deep." The second, "Serenade and Burlesque," was a charming quintet by Melbourne composer Vaughan McAlley. These compositions are fine additions to the ever growing repertoire for the genre of ensemble music for multiple flutes.
Multiple flutes have been around for many many moons, as they were extremely popular in the British Isles during the mid 1950's onwards. The flute band was an interesting array of multiple flutes from piccolos and Eb/ Bb and F flutes to altos and even basses. The Monash ensemble is a group that can range from piccolos right down to the giant subcontrabass flute and vary in numbers from five to twenty five. Flute ensemble music has been popular worldwide since the late 1970's when Universities found the need to place the numerous flute students into a chamber music settings. The genre has grown and over the decades thousands of works have been arranged and composed for this ensemble setting.
The Monash Ensemble is exploring and inspiring flute ensemble music of the highest standard, and this genre is by no means fully explored. The nine member chamber ensemble for the "Voices from the Deep," made up of flutes below middle C (3 altos, 2 basses, and one contrabass and one subcontrabass flute) was in full form both in the musical and stylistic sense. The rich sounding group was lead by Honours student Effie Hamilton, with fine support and attention to detail from Gemma Murray and Rebekka Dertinger on altos. Alice Bennett (3rd yr.) brought a fully supported tone along with a strong confident rhythmic pulse to the bass flute section, which was assisted by Elizabeth O'Leary (1st yr.) with her impressive solo phrases and defined articulation. Robert Goode added a warm lower octave support on the contrabass flute, as 2nd year student Tess Sakkas grounded the ensemble with her substantial deep partials on the subcontrabass flute. An experience for students and audience members alike, this work is fine example of the sensitivity, agility and unique colour the low flutes possess.
"Serenade and Burlesque" was a tightly knitted composition for five flutes (2 C flutes, alto, bass and contra) which was lead by flute faculty staff Sylvie Leprohon. The work began with a Bach-like quote from the 'Air on the G string,' though quickly, yet subtly explored new tonal ground even before the end of the first phrase. The interlocking, yet expressive upper lines were beautifully voiced by Ms. Leprohon and her honours students Karman Lee. The lyrical movement gave all players a moment to allow the motives to shine through their flutes, and the balance seemed well suited to the audience. Tess Sakkas brought a breath full of tone and lyricism through the alto flute, as Alice Bennett again supported the ensemble from the lower end. The Contrabass flute was played by me (Peter Sheridan) which was a wonderful opportunity to share my passion for the lower sounding flutes and for live performance.
The Monash Flute Ensemble thanks all the staff, faculty and audience members who supported this most unique concert. A special thanks go to our Head, Thomas Reiner, and the Coordinator of Winds, David Griffiths.