May ArtStart Reflection

Time is flying by, and I am now entering the final month of my time in England. While my overall blog has been a little quiet of late, I am happy that I’ve been making good progress with the ArtStart side of things. Here is what I’ve been up to:

I am now six weeks into my Practical Financial Management for Small Businesses course. We have covered a lot of ground, including financial forecasting, income statements and analysis of account. As the course has progressed we’ve had some classes that I feel are very relevant to what I’m hoping to do as a musician, and some that aren’t at the moment. The class on ratio analysis, for example, was interesting but not terribly relevant for managing chamber ensembles. It has, however, prompted me to be a little more daring with my use of MS Excel for designing spredsheets, which will help with organisation and budgeting no end.

My lessons with Carla Rees are continuing, with a double lesson extravaganza this week. We worked on Stravinsky and Boulez excerpts as well as one of the Jolivet Ascèses and a brand new piece written for me by Australian composer James Wade. I was utterly exhausted afterwards, but feel like I’m learning an awful lot. We spent a lot of time talking about differences between alto and C flute, especially in terms of colour. On C flute we aim for a homogeneity of colour across the registers, but on the alto we need to embrace the differences between high and low a little more, using the colours to our advantage. I need to remember to resonate rather than pushing the sound. Also, when I need to project the sound as in the Stravinsky excerpts, I need to think about how to achieve this with colour rather than taking the written dynamics too literally. The Boulez was a particular challenge, both technically and conceptually, and I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time on this piece.

It is now less than a month until the SoundSCAPE Festival, and I’m now knee deep in preparing repertoire for that. I’ve been allocated an interesting and highly varied selection of new commission pieces: C flute with lots of whistle tones, multiphonics and quartertones (with bassoon, percussion and piano); bass flute with quasi-theatrical indications and some interesting staging (with double bass and piano); C and alto flutes with soprano, guitar and percussion. I’m also playing duets with some friends from last year, giving a talk on contemporary music in Australia, and preparing some solo pieces. It is going to be a lot of work, but I’m already getting excited.

After SoundSCAPE, I’m flying back to Australia, and will be moving on to a few more of he ArtStart activities in the second half of the year. There is still a lot more on the cards, but looking through my breakdown of activities I feel more or less on track still.

Based on some outcomes from job applications in Australia (for better or worse), my trip to the U.S. is now very much back on the cards for mid-August. I’ll be starting off at the National Flute Association Convention in Washington D.C., then heading to New York City for about a week for some lessons. At the moment there feels like an awful lot to do in preparation for this, but I’m hoping to get that sorted in the coming weeks!

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