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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Iowa Flute Festival Comes to Bucksbaum featuring flutist Ian Clarke

On Feb. 23, flutists from around the state will make their way to Grinnell College for a day of workshops, lectures, performances and competitions at the yearly Iowa Flute Festival. World-renowned guest artist Ian Clarke will join the festivities. For flute aficionados like Claudia Anderson, applied music associate and lecturer in music at the College, it’s a dream come true.

“All of these flutists … know Ian Clarke because he has created a whole area in our literature and repertoire in the last twenty years. He uses what we call extended techniques and non-traditional flute sounds. … The styles are all over the map, but they can be pop- or jazz-influenced; or they can be funk,” said Anderson.

She also expressed enthusiasm about the accessibility and pragmatism Clarke brings to the form, citing the broad appeal of his music and their “evocative” titles.

“[Clarke] writes music very specifically for the effects that he wants, but he will be the first one to say … ‘try something else,’” she said, mimicking Clarke’s British accent. “A lot of his music is attractive because it has that improvisatory feel to it.”

Clarke’s original musical style is unique in the world of classical music, where there are a multitude of both rules and existing styles.

“To have the opportunity to develop your own musical style that includes this freedom of expression is really unique,” Anderson said.

Aside from two public performances at the end of the festival, there will be a variety of exciting opportunities for festival attendees throughout the day. Anderson said the festival’s theme of collaboration makes these offerings all the more dynamic.

“… one colleague is doing yoga for musicians, one’s doing reading of flute choir materials, one’s doing warmup … It’s a real spirit of working together, and Ian falls into that too,” she said. “A lot of times the guest star can be a bit of a diva … But he’s flexible and down-to-earth, so that’s pretty ideal.”

Particularly exciting to Anderson is a concert featuring over sixty-five Iowa flutists, including professors, and students. The artists will perform a piece authored by Clarke titled “Walk Like This.” It was originally written for elementary school-aged players. Anderson notes that although it is an easy performance for the talented flutists who will perform at the festival, the spirit of the work is ageless.

According to Anderson, five Grinnell alumni are returning to campus just to participate in the festival. They will also perform alongside the Iowan flutists and Clarke himself.

“There’s a great sense of community … this time around with the festival,” Anderson said.

Those interested in obtaining more information about the festival should contact Claudia Anderson. Online registration is available on the Grinnell College website until Feb. 22.

Two events are free and open to the public, including a performance by Iowan flutists at 3:45 p.m. in the Sebring-Lewis Hall; and a 5:15 p.m. gala recital featuring Ian Clarke.


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