The Monty Python kid show How to Do It promised, among other things, to teach children how to play the flute. Here, in its entirety, is the instruction for that discipline: "You blow in one end, and move your fingers up and down the outside."
Proof that the Pythons had skimped on the details a tad comes to the Valley this weekend with the 26th annual convention of The National Flute Association. For four days, more than 3,000 flutists will blow in one end, move their fingers up and down the outside, and argue and commune about how to do it best.
For the rest of us, since all the events are open to the public, the happy result is a heap of cool, cheap concerts. The 25-year-old association, the "largest flute organization in the world," boasts a membership of more than 6,000 in 50 countries. Plenty of them will perform at the convention--each evening will feature a major concert at Phoenix Symphony Hall. While the daytime and late-night concerts offer tastes of Venezuelan and other international flute music, the convention's theme this year is "The American Flute." Dang right.
The scheduled evening concerts are as follows:
8:15 p.m. Thursday, August 13: "The Native American Flute" with Navajo-Ute musician R. Carlos Nakai.
8:30 p.m. Saturday, August 15: "U.S. and World Concerto Premieres": New works by such composers as James De Mars, Stephen Dodgson, Jindrich Feld, Leo Kraft and Meyer Kupferman are played by such performers as Eric Hoover, Robert Stallman, George Pope, Margaret Swinchoski and Laurel Ann Maurer.
4:15 p.m. Sunday, August 16: "Fastest Fingers in the West!" This flute and piano gala brings the weekend to an appropriately Western quick-draw climax with performances by Carole Bean, Elena Duran, Bradley Garner, Jeani Mulhonen Foster, Amy Porter and Susanna Self.
In addition to the headliners bill, the weekend will include daytime concerts featuring such ensembles as The Great American Flute Orchestra, the Phoenix Symphony Flutist in Recital, Matt Doran with Flutes Fantastico and the Oregon Flute Ensemble, Sierra Winds and the Baylor Woodwind Quintet, Les Enfant de Pan and Laurence Albert, the National High School Flute Choir, the United States Air Force Band of the West Chamber Players and the Fourth Annual AIDS Memorial Concert.
A wide variety of workshops, clinics and lectures is also scheduled, on topics ranging from "The Electric Flute" to "Flute and the Internet" to "The American Melting Pot: A World of Flutes" to "Looking for Kokopelli: A Look at Flute Player Images in Rock Art of the Southwest."
Oh, yeah, and one more peculiar performance: NFA attendees are scheduled to play the national anthem at BOB before the Friday, August 14, Mets-Diamondbacks match-up. Let's hope those wild flutists don't raunch it up with their flying fingers, the way Roseanne did.
--M. V. Moorhead
The 26th annual convention of The National Flute Association is scheduled from Thursday, August 13, through Sunday, August 16. Venues include Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams; Phoenix Civic Plaza, Second Street and Adams; the Hyatt Regency Phoenix, 122 North Second Street; and Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe, but tickets and registration for all events and concerts must be picked up at Phoenix Civic Plaza. Tickets for evening and late-night concerts are $15, $10 for daytime concerts. For more information, call 514-7818.