Five Great Works for Flute by Black Composers

Celebrate Black History Month by playing these special works by ground-breaking composers!

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Danse Negre for Flute Choir

The opening of this sparkling work is instantly engaging with it’s swirling run-up and rhythmic energy. Sped along by a driving bass, articulated semiquaver passages and a catchy melody, this excellent arrangement holds the ensemble together well. The ‘dolce’ section brings welcome calm before the music picks up pace again to the end. This is uplifting both to play and to listen to which is just what you would expect from a native of Croydon! Difficulty Guide: 6-8


Valerie Coleman: Fanmi Imen-Poem for Flute and Piano

This is a really imaginative piece from the American composer/flute player Valerie Coleman. The improvisational style of her writing her enables her to blend the various multicultural motifs that occur between the flute and the piano, and use the French style flute cadenzas to link them. Performance directions such as ‘cut loose with a tribal feel’ might take a while to gel, as will the ability to play in the cante and toque of the Flamenco, but if you’re thinking about programming something completely different, Fanmi Imèn would be a very good place to start! Difficulty Guide: 8-9


William Grant Still arranged Alexa Still: Three Songs for Flute and Piano

These three songs have been sensitively adapted for the flute by Alexa Still to bring out their expressive character. All three use lower colours to evoke the sadness of loss. Bayou Home is almost in the style of a Spiritual with those familiar rolling rhythms, the meandering If You Should Go captures the confusion of loss and Song for the Lonely is simply despairing. Sad music indeed but utterly beautiful. Difficulty Guide: 6-7


Adolphus Hailstork: Yuhwa (The Goddess of the Willow Trees) for Solo Flute

This expressive work by the American composer Adolphus Hailstork gently ebbs and flows, alternating between melodic fragments and cascades of notes.  The range of both notes and rhythm are approachable so there is plenty of scope for individuality in performance, especially as  the simple structure allows the piece to hang together effectively.  It is based on a Korean folktale but you don’t have to know that to appreciate it’s evocative style – it’s just lovely! Difficulty Guide: 8


David Baker: Inspiration for Flute and Piano

David Baker is best know for his jazz music but this engaging piece is rooted in the more classical flute style. The music is unmistakeably American and both the fast and contrasting slow melodies are wide and expansive. There are plenty of notes to play too which, together with a lively accompaniment, ensure that the outer sections sparkle. The inner calm of the brief centre is beautiful and paves the way for the spirited ending.  This is not a jazz piece but it is a good one! Difficulty Guide: 8

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