Flute Solo – Consider the Lilies

May 30th, 2012

Writing this flute solo was the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity of facing the challenge of writing something that needed to be played by someone new to an instrument (Lily had been studying flute for about two years). This forced me to figure out ways to create sounds that were easily produced but were still new and interesting. What made the process much easier was the fact that Lily was already able to have a strong and full sound on the lower register of the flute (quite an accomplishment for her short time studying the instrument). So I focused on bringing out the contrast between the different registers while also creating complex harmonic implications to draw as much attention as possible to every sound being made throughout each line. This process yielded the opening melody, which reminded me of wind gently blowing across a field of flowers. Between that and Lily’s name, Matthew 6:28-30 (NIV) immediatly came to mind:

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

So I then wrote the rest of the flute solo based on the emotional process a person might go through when hearing Jesus’ words during a difficult time in life.

On Memorial Day, May 28, 2012, my wife’s high school flute student, Lily, premiered this flute solo. This premier performance can be viewed below:

Nothing I write is ever easy and this piece is no exception. Lily did a fantastic job of rising to the occasion! Hats of to her and my wife for working so hard in pulling it off so decisively!

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While originally being written as a flute solo, Consider the Lilies (not so coincidentally) works very nicely for the alto saxophone as well! I’ve included a preview of the score in the sample below as well.

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Flute Solo – Ivory Desert

November 4th, 2011

This flute solo was written for a composition seminar in which Dr. Ricardo Lorenz paired each participating composer with a participating performer in order to write a solo for each performer’s instrument. Throughout the semester, Joelle Willems (the flute player whom I consider a co-composer of this work) and I met periodically to discuss the flute solo I was writing. She would play passages that I’d written and together we’d make detailed modifications to make the solo more idiomatic for the flute while still keeping my creative intent intact. As I expected, these sessions not only changed the way I originally intended certain things to be played, but it changed the sort of flute solo that I wanted to write. As we went along, Joelle showed me certain aspects of the flute of which I was unaware, and I immediately took that knowledge and applied it to the solo. Working directly and as often as possible with a performer is the most effective compositional technique I have ever encountered.

Performer: Joelle Willems

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Preview first page of score

This flute solo is still extremely challenging. It uses the full range of the flute in dynamics and pitch as well as several extended techniques. Between slow lyrical sections, rapid and aggressive passages, sweeping melodic gestures, expressive grace notes, flutter tonguing, and guided improvisation this piece offers the advanced flutist everything they could want in a short unaccompanied solo.

The title refers to an object of beauty that is incapable of being observed because it destroys the life that is attracted to it with the very thing that makes it beautiful. Thus, the piece reflects radiant beauty, loneliness, and lifelessness.

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