This Syrinx is from after my performance today at the New York Flute Club flute fair. I was honored and delighted to take part in the concert celebrating composer Katherine Hoover’s 75th birthday. Jeremy Gill, piano, and I performed Mountain and Mesa, a work that we premiered at the National Flute Convention in New York in 2009. I recorded the work with pianist Charles Abramovic on my CD “Odyssey: 11 American Premieres for Flute and Piano” (Innova Recordings). It was a great pleasure to present Katherine’s wonderful and colorful music before a large audience of (mostly) fellow flutists, and to share the stage with terrific colleagues who also performed in the concert. We closed with Katherine’s Peace is the Way, for eight flutes.
With Katherine Hoover
Left to right back row: Judith Mendenhall, Sato Moughalian, Suk Hee Hong, Nathalie Joachim, Allison Loggins-Hull, Katherine Hoover, me, Jan Vinci, Jeremy Gill
This is yesterday’s Syrinx Journey entry, shot in the dressing room before I went onstage to perform on the Music of Now Marathon at Symphony Space in New York. This eight-hour concert featured a huge array of composers and performers in world or New York premieres. It was hosted by Symphony Space Artistic Director Laura Kaminsky and composer Tania León, and each composer was interviewed before the performance of his or her piece. I premiered Fang Man’s A Folktale of the Four Dragons II, an imaginative setting of a Chinese folktale in which I performed and narrated the story. I also premiered a piece I wrote, Huldah for solo flute.
It was an exciting night, and we didn’t get back to Philadelphia until around 3:00am, which is why I’m posting yesterday’s Syrinx today.
Today’s Syrinx includes my dear friend composer Fang Man, known is Mandy, who is with me in Philadelphia today preparing for my premiere of her new work at the Music of Now Marathon at Symphony Space in New York tomorrow night. I am excited to perform a wonderful piece she wrote for me, A Folktale of the Four Dragons II for solo flute. In the piece, Mandy has me play on C flute and alto flute, sing, and narrate a Chinese folktale. Dedicated to her newborn son, the work is intended for all audiences and especially children. After I finished playing Syrinx I joined Mandy to go over some final edits on the piece.
We also had a very productive meeting this morning with Tim Early, choreographer and dancer, who will be creating a dance component for Mandy’s Earth song cycle, which Dolce Suono Ensemble will premiere on April 14 at Delaware County Community College in Media, PA. The ensemble musicians look forward to working with the terrific artists coming together to do this project – singers Lucy Shelton and Evan Hughes in addition to Mandy and Tim.
Today I played Syrinx on a beautiful gold flute I tried at Yamaha Artist Services in New York. I visited the atelier to try the new ultra handmade series of Yamaha flutes. I worked with Dave Lotozo and Tomoji Hirakata, who are so knowledgeable and answered all my questions. Tomoji is a great woodwind technical specialist.
In the elegant library of the New York Academy of Medicine, surrounded by medical texts and journals, I was reminded of the medical definition of the word “syrinx.” In the mythological context we think of the wood nymph Syrinx, but the word in Greek literally means “tube,” like the reeds she was turned into in order to escape Pan’s embrace. In medicine, “syringe” also comes from the Greek word for tube. A syrinx is a tubular, liquid-filled abnormality of the spinal cord or brain.
After I finished playing Debussy’s Syrinx, I took a look at an Italian journal of otology.
The New York Academy of Medicine, where I performed in a benefit for the South Street Seaport Museum last night, is a beautiful and historic building. The Academy was founded in 1847 to address urban health challenges. It moved into a fascinating, Romanesque building on 103rd and 5th Avenue in 1926. I played Syrinx in the Library, one of the largest medical libraries in America open to the public. The wood panelling and high ceilings make for great acoustics. I derive a sense of comfort from libraries, which for me are places for adventures of the mind. Syrinx Journey has already taken me inside and outside libraries at the University of Pennsylvania. My Debussy was inspired by the special atmosphere in this elegant room, enhanced by the view of Central Park on a misty day.
This evening I performed in a benefit event for the South Street Seaport Museum at The New York Academy of Medicine. The evening had a “Moby-Dick” theme, and I was invited to perform music from George Crumb’s Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale) while a film of sperm whales was shown. There was a dynamic reading of excerpts from Melville’s Moby-Dick by an excellent cast: Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Epstein, Matthew Rauch, and John Douglas Thompson, with introductions by Nathaniel Philbrick, the distinguished historian. Gordon Hyatt produced the event.left to right: Matthew Rauch, Matthew Broderick, me, Nathaniel Philbrick, Jonathan Epstein, Gordon Hyatt