Monday, April 24, 2006


Madison, WI is home to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and it's known for liberal politics and hard partying. My plane came in towards it by night, and the state capitol building was all lit up. It was a cool way to kick off my time there.

The Madison Flute Club had its third annual festival in a university extension building on campus. Organizers and volunteers worked very hard to make everything go smoothly and make the presenters feel welcome. I had some A/V drama early on, but it got resolved before I gave my workshop. It was fun to see Jim Mildrew's film on a big screen in the lecture hall.

I heard a presentation by Dr. Mihoko Watanabe, the flute professor from Oshkosh. She has interviewed the composer Kazuo Fukushima and found out, contrary to everything the flute community has believed for many years, that his famous piece "Mei" wasn't inspired by the shakuhachi flute after all, but by the noh-kan, a flute used in the orchestra for traditional Noh theater. Mr. Fukushima doesn't even like the sound of the shakuhachi!

I met up with my friend Caen Thomason-Redus and had lots of fun hanging with him and Mihoko too. I roomed with Emily Butterfield, a flutist from Columbus. She gave her presentation on Clement Barone, an eminent piccolo teacher who has recently passed on but who's left a lasting mark.

Speaking of the piccolo, I was amazed and awed by Kate Prestia-Schaub, who gave the piccolo masterclass and performed the first movement of the Lowell Lieberman concerto in the Gala Recital. Kate is a rock star -- there are no two ways about it. The piccolo is the easiest instrument in the world to play badly. I have heard a lot of bad piccolo playing (most notably coming out of ME. I suck at the piccolo). Sunday night was the first time I really truly HEARD the Lieberman concerto and its beauty, because Kate has a mastery and sensitivity far above anyone else I've heard. Not even at the piccolo masterclass at the NFA convention (in which I didn't play, mind you--I was the door monitor) have I heard the picc played so well.

The Gala Recital was really cool because half the pieces on the bill were by living composers. My performance of "Three Visions" went really well. Iwona Glinka played a piece by a Greek composer that was full of extended techniques, and Kim Dorr played Ian Clarke's "Zoom Tube". I was impressed that there was so much good challenging material in the recital.

On the plane back they showed "Chronicles of Narnia". I hadn't seen it before, and it's beautifully done, and it seems very faithful to the book. Unfortunately, this means that there is only one powerful female character in the film, and she's evil. In this day and age it's super annoying to watch all the female characters on the "good guy" side end up in jeopardy all the time. This is, alas, the way C.S. Lewis wrote it.

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