Works Commissioned by the Oklahoma Flute Society
Vince Norman: Dreams of a Flutopian Future
Dreams of a Flutopian Future was commissioned for OFS Flute Choir Day in 2019.
The concept for "Dreams of a Flutopian Future" is that of a dream-filled night experienced by a member of the Oklahoma Flute Society. Picture an OFS member listening to Iosef Ivanovici's "Waves of the Danube" (also known as "The Anniversary Waltz") right before nodding off. Once REM sleep occurs, they are transported to the 1889 Paris Exposition for the world premiere of Mr. Ivanovicis' famous work. This soon takes a left turn to South America and transforms into a Venezuelan joropo.
After Venezuela, the dreams start free associating. The second stop on this subconscious quest takes them to a 50th wedding anniversary party at which the melody to "The Anniversary Waltz" seems to have been turned on its head. Upon completion of the upside-down tribute to the happy couple the dreamer takes a randomly abstract trip to NYC for some cutting-edge jazz at The Village Vanguard. This leads to a return to the Danube (in 4/4 this time) to bookend this stream of auditory visions. This piece can be performed by a quartet (two C flutes, an alto, and a bass) or with expanded flute choir with optional parts for contrabass flute and a rhythm section.
Read more about Vince Norman here.
Nicole Chamberlain: Asphyxia
Asphyxia was commissioned by the Oklahoma Flute Society for the final round of the 2016 Collegiate Competition on April 1, 2016 at the University of Oklahoma at the Oklahoma Flute Society Flute Fair.
The word asphyxia is a medical term for a person's inability to breathe and lack of oxygen in the body. The symptoms of asphyxia can be light headedness or dizziness. Playing the flute is an instrument that requires plenty of air supplied by the performer. Many young flutists will complain about being dizzy when first learning to play the flute, but after a few weeks the young flutist adjust to the new demands and the dizziness subsides. A verteran flutist will seldom experience dizziness. However, when relentless extended techniques are added, new athletic demands can bring the most experienced to gasp for air.
Learn more about Nicole Chamberlain's Asphyxia here.
Cynthia Folio: Quintlexia
Quintlexia (2013) is a quintet for five flutes (or any multiple of five as a flute choir). The piece is the result of a commission from the Oklahoma Flute Society as a celebration of the 20th Annual Oklahoma Flute Fair. The title comes from a Saturday Night Live skit in which Bill Murray is interviewed by Jane Curtain because he supposedly had a disability, called “quintlexia,” which meant that he could only say five words: “That’s true, you’re absolutely right.” He made millions—both despite, and as a result—of this “disability.”
Since the piece is for five flutes (piccolo, two C flutes, alto flute, and bass flute), I decided to feature the number five in prominent ways. The piece opens with a five-note chord (introduced one note at a time), which quickly expands into a larger chord. In the fifth bar, a motive appears that suggests the prosody of the key phrase—“That’s true, you’re absolutely right.” The chord and the motive are key features throughout the piece. Other examples of the number five are: the frequent use of 5/4 meter; the use of the interval of the perfect fifth (in the opening chord and elsewhere); and groupings of five notes (e.g. in the middle section, where the flutes vocalize “tsu du ta tsu du”).
The playful title suggests the mood of the piece, which is meant to be light-hearted. Syncopation, meter changes, dynamic changes and silences provide the element of surprise and some passages have the five parts literally “chasing” after one another in imitation. The piece makes use of a few extended techniques, such as flutter tonguing, airy sound, key clicks, bended notes, tongue thrusts, and speaking into the flute. I want to thank OFS for this commission and for inviting me as guest artist at the Oklahoma Flute Fair!
Grace Wiley Smith: Oklahoma Landscapes
Oklahoma Landscapes, for flute quartet, expandable to flute choir (2007). Commissioned by the Oklahoma Flute Society, this piece has been composed to commemorate the Oklahoma Centennial in 2007. Oklahoma is the Choctaw word for “land of the red people”. The Oklahoma State Flag displays an Osage warrior’s shield with an Indian peace pipe and an olive branch, symbols of peace and unity from the cultures of the American Indian and settler. Oklahoma was the 46th state to join the U.S. in 1907. Today, Oklahoma has the largest American Indian population of any state.
This work is written for flute choir but may also be performed as a flute quartet. The first movement has 4th flute and/or optional alto flute. The second movement includes piccolo and bass flute (optional contra bass flute) for flute choir performances. Some melodies used in “Oklahoma Landscapes” originate from the Muscogee hymn, “My Peace I Leave with You”. All the important melodic passages have been marked as they are passed from one part to another through markings of solo, soli, melody and dynamics. Care should be taken that they are always heard in the overall balance. The composer marked the names of sections only in the score. If the performer feels that they would get a better picture of what the music is saying they could notate them from the score.
Quartz Mountain Tall Grass Prairie
Black Mesa Kiamichi River
Little Sahara Red Rock Canyon
Catherine McMichael: Salt of the Earth
The Oklahoma Flute Society premiered its newly commissioned work from composer Catherine McMichael at its 11th annual Flute Fair in November of 2004. Salt of the Earth is music for flute quartet or choir that is meant to evoke the sounds, sights, challenges and strengths of Oklahoma’s land and people; but also of any land and people faced with challenge, met by strength. Oklahoma is a land of beauty and stern landscape, of struggle, injustice and conquest, of defeat and blessings at the whim of the weather, of riches from the ground. It is a land of tenacity and artistry. The movement titles are words that can conjure up scenarios of Oklahoma’s history in nature, politics, personalities and cultures.
Samuel Magrill: Serenade for Flute Choir
The metaphor for this composition was a “serenade”---someone singing a love song below a beloved’s window, perhaps late at night, with the hope that the beloved might wake up, go to the window and listen to the musical declaration of love. The work was written as a labor of love for Natalie Syring and her Oklahoma Celebration Flute Choir. It also purports to be a love song from the composer to the audience with the flute choir as mediator.
Ray E. Luke: Sonata for Flute and Piano
The Oklahoma Flute Society commissioned Luke’s Sonata for Flute and Piano with generous support from the Brannen-Cooper Fund, Oklahoma City University’s School of Music, and several flutists and music lovers. A three-movement work (Allegro Moderato; Cadenza and Adagio; Allegro), the Sonata showcases the flute’s full range of agility and expression and is a true collaboration for flute and piano. Luke’s hallmarks of rhythmic vitality, mastery of color, and idiomatic instrumental writing are evident throughout. The premiere was August 29, 1999 at the University of Oklahoma by Amy Zuback, flute, and Digby Bell, piano.
Ray Luke (1928-2010) flourished at the heart of Oklahoma City’s musical life for five decades and distinguished himself as a respected conductor, revered teacher, and award- winning composer. Listed among his numerous awards for composition are the Premier Prix of the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium International Composition Competition in 1969 for Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, and First Prize in the Rockefeller Foundation/New England Conservatory Competition for a new opera by an American composer for Medea in 1978. His catalog of over eighty compositions includes large works for orchestra, concerto-type works, operas, choral pieces, chamber music, and educational pieces for concert band.
As Professor of Music at Oklahoma City University from 1962 to 1997, Luke taught theory and composition and served as conductor of the orchestra, band, and opera productions. Former students, now scattered across Oklahoma and the United States, recall him fondly and with awe, and nearly always recount an event with Dr. Luke that significantly affected their careers. While always citing teaching as his primary activity, he also loved to conduct and had a long association with the Oklahoma City Symphony Orchestra as its Associate Conductor and later as interim Music Director.
Ray Luke’s complete works are housed in the archive of the Dulaney-Browne Library at Oklahoma City University.