Averie Washington graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a Bachelor of Arts in music and French in May of 2015. Currently enrolled in the MM in Music Education program at William Paterson University, she hopes to one day start a flute studio.
Party Like A Rock Star: Or My Favorite Flute Repertoire
by Averie Washington
I play the flute, and like any musician I have my favorite pieces to perform. My favorite pieces of flute repertoire have several factors in common:
- They sound nice
- There is some interesting feature that grabs my attention
- They are not a complete nightmare to learn
- They make me feel like a rock star when I play them
When a piece makes me feel like a rock star I feel accomplished, too cool for words, and powerful. My favorite pieces of flute repertoire are Hypnosis by Ian Clarke, Density 21.5 by Edgard Varèse, the Finale movement of Reinecke’s Undine Sonata, and Poulenc’s sonata for flute and piano.
Ian Clarke’s Hypnosis is my absolute favorite piece and is prime rock star material. Hypnosis comes from Clarke’s days as part of a performing rock group and evolved from a set of structured improvisations. There is also extended technique in the form of pitch bending. It’s a real crowd-pleaser and I have actually had people come up to me days after I performed it to tell me how much they enjoyed it.
Density 21.5 is an odd piece which will not appeal to everyone. It was written by Varèse for the premier of the platinum flute and takes its name from the density of platinum. It includes a lot of precise rhythms and dynamic contrast in addition to some deliberately harsh sounds. Key clicks and unusually high notes are some of the interesting features in this piece. This piece is one of my favorites because it is so different from most of the rest of the music in my repertoire. It allows you to get creative with phrasing and expression. Also, nothing will make you feel more like a rock star than nailing those high d’s.
Reinecke’s Undine sonata is a nice piece overall but the Finale movement is my favorite part of it. It is a big final movement that really lets you play out. There are various moods to portray and references to earlier movements as well. The movement sounds best when you play with a big, strong sound which in turn makes you feel really powerful.
The Sonata for flute and piano by Poulenc is a demanding piece with a great payoff. There are many technical challenges including double tonguing at high speeds and high notes at low dynamics. However, once you overcome these challenges you too will feel like a rock star.
Finally, I have included a playlist with my favorite flute repertoire and some other great pieces for you to enjoy.