British Success at the NFA Newly Published Music Competition 2020! (Part One)

As we all know 2020 has a strange year, but the NFA has still managed to award prizes for new music. The great news is that there was plenty of British success to celebrate!

Purge for Solo Flute: Jenny Jackson: published by Tetractys

This piece was awarded an Honourable Mention for its imaginative writing style. The composer notes: ‘This short piece for solo flute is robust and blatantly aggressive in a way that captures attention, using the voice extensively to augment and compound a breathless and relentless outpouring. It is guttural, gestural and almost animalistic: a dramatic display which expels and purifies as it flits skittishly between music that is resolute or warm, flighty or driven.’ It’s great – give it a try!

Dioramas, Set 1 for Flute and Piano: Alfie Pugh published by Wonderful Winds

A finalist in the Original Flute and Piano section, this set of miniatures was written with the aim of creating short, fun pieces with interesting colours and harmonies. Each piece is a self-contained scene with a different character, and the piano parts aim to contextualise the seemingly simple melodies with more complex, often jazz-orientated harmonies. A really useful set for early grade flute.

A Night at the Opera: Various Composers arranged by Elisabeth Parry and John Allen for Two Flutes published by Aurea Capra Editions

A winner!! This is a wonderful book! All eight duets are classics that have been sensitively arranged to allow the melodies to take centre stage. Easy keys and a modest note range puts them well within the range of most players with the piano accompaniments of a similar standard. They also work well for two flutes. so the potential for enjoying this music either as someone new to the operatic repertoire or as a seasoned opera buff is huge. This another must buy! Paradise!

Portafoglio per i dilettanti Op 67 for Two Flutes and Piano: Briccialdi arranged John Alley published by Aurea Capra Editions

An Honourable Mention in the Two Flutes category, this is a great edition of a little-known Italian classic. Written in one movement, the variety of the writing expertly holds the interest. There are solos for both flutes, lovely lyrical melodies, dovetailing flutes in thirds and sixths through sparkling runs, a cadenza,  a brief unaccompanied passage for flutes alone, and the usual virtuoso build-up to the grand finale. There is nothing ground-breaking here but this really is very lovely music!

Two Neopolitan Songs for Three Flutes: Edward di Capua arranged Anna Cooper published by Wonderful Winds

This was also a finalist in its section. These two songs were made famous by Neapolitan tenor Enrico Caruso who sang them as encores at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in the early 20th century. The love song ‘O Sole Mio’ translates as My Sunshine and gives all the players a chance to wallow in the nostalgic melody. ‘Funiculi, Funicula’ was composed to celebrate the opening of the first cable car on Mount Vesuvius. All parts get a chance for a tune with the Alto taking the lead in the verse and the flutes leading the rousing refrain.

Sussex Carol for Three Flutes: Traditional arranged by Peter J Pecora published by Wonderful Winds

Another finalist in the Three Flutes section, this is a quirky arrangement of the Sussex Carol which is both familiar and the unexpected. The famous tune is sometimes broken up and moved around between all the parts which makes it a little more tricky than it looks on the page. Add in some unpredictable key changes with a few cross accents and you have a very interesting mix. The result is a real crowd pleaser that will provide just that change of style to lift those Christmas concerts!

Aria ‘Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben: JS Bach arranged Elizabeth Walker published by ALRY

A worthy finalist in the Four Flutes category. The music arranged here for Flute Quartet is the heart-wrenching aria, “Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben,” from the St Matthew Passion where the solitary flautist and soprano singer reflect on the question of sin, judgement and punishment. In this most hauntingly vulnerable aria, Bach manages to find both beauty and fragility to reflect upon this question.

Scenes from the High Prairie for Flute Ensemble: Robert Strobel published by Forton Music

A winner! The four short pieces short pieces that make up this work are minimalist in style which makes for some interesting textural writing. The colouring of the ensemble, particularly the use of the two piccolos and the lower flutes, is very evocative and each movement really does take the audience to the prairies of the USA!

Hold the Ridge for Flute Ensemble: Michael Clulow published by Tetractys

Hold the Ridge was awarded an Honourable Mention in the Flute Ensembles category and it’s easy to see why. It was originally inspired by the journal extracts of Ellis Silas, a soldier of the 1915 Gallipoli campaign. The aim of this piece is to invoke the unending tension of a moment such as the one on May 2nd when the 4th Allied Brigade charged the enemy and to perhaps gain perspective on how those actions effected the soldiers of the time.

Introduction and Allegro Brillante for Flute, Oboe and Piano: David Arditti published by Forton Music

This tuneful work was a finalist in the Mixed Trios category. The composer writes: ‘The combination of piano with two wind instruments that occupy a similar pitch-space but have very different timbres creates its own challenge to write interestingly and characteristically for them knowing that each will always be heard as an individual voice.”

Toot (& Hoot) Suite for Flute, Clarinet and Piano: Jonty Hall published by Forton Music

Also finalist in Mixed Trios, this Suite is a great way for more advanced musicians to develop their ensemble skills. The characters of each of the movements is mainly driven by rhythm and quirky harmony, and creates for a fun way to make music!

Mixed Wind Trios for Flute, Clarinet and Bassoon Book 1: Lynn Williams published by Forton Press

It’s easy to see why this charming volume of easy trios should have been awarded an Honourable Mention in its category. Each of the seven short and simple pieces is an ideal way to introduce inexperienced players to the wonders of making music together. Written Lynn Williams who really knows what she’s doing!

Divertimento for Flute with Violin, Viola and Cello: Dennis Wickens published by Forton Music

A finalist in the Mixed Small Ensembles category, this substantial piece would make a really interesting addition to a concert for this instrumental combination. The composer writes: ‘A flautist friend lamented the paucity of repertoire for this instrumental combination beyond the Baroque era and the two Mozart works, so, partly for amusement, I wrote this theme and variations referencing styles by-passed over succeeding centuries. Those of particular composers will be readily apparent, confirmed by a few fleeting quotations also intended to serve as tributes.’

A Burns Flute Cycle for Alto Flute and Guitar: Alexandra Lenman published by Forton Music

A winner! This really good piece is a very much deserved winner in the Low Flutes category! Based around the poetry of Robert Burns, all the movements are gently engaging. The other great thing about it is the fact that there is very little music for alto flute that is pitched at this level. The choice of either piano of guitar for the accompaniment opens up different performance possibilities and there is an additional descant part for C flute which is a little more diffiicult. There is even a really easy bass line for bass flute! So this is both lovely and useful – a properly winning combination!

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