2020 Flute Fair Guest Artists
ZAWA! and Friends
ZAWA!, described as "electrifying" and "mesmerizing" in performances across the country and abroad, is the longest standing professional flute duo of our time. Musical soulmates Jill Felber and Claudia Anderson merged artistic forces in 1997, and began touring with recently commissioned and traditional duo works.
Their first commission was running the edgE by Jennifer Higdon (1996), laying the foundation for ZAWA’s commitment to expand the repertoire for two flutes and to reflect a wealth of contemporary styles. Their arrangements of Claudio Monteverdi and Jules Mouquet exhibit sheer beauty of sound and breathtaking lyricism, at the other end of the expressive spectrum. Collectively, ZAWA’s diverse repertoire displays the drama, lyricism, versatility and humor they are known for, all delivered with high-spirited energy and impact.
ZAWA! has appeared at New York's Carnegie Hall, London's Wigmore Hall and many colleges and universities nationwide. Recognized as a unique and brilliant partnership, they have been guest artists at national and international flute festivals, and have enjoyed headliner performances spanning 2001 to 2018 at the National Flute Association conventions.
Cynthia Folio on Winds for Change
Winds for Change, a composition about climate change, accompanied by optional video and live manipulation of the flutes, was ZAWA’s idea. I was excited about the topic, but daunted by the technological components, so I ultimately delegated these to others. Aleck Brinkman (my husband) did the programming for live sound manipulation of the flutes and other effects using PureData (Pd) software.
My musical relationship with ZAWA! goes back to 2008, when I wrote Z3 for them (I. Zephyr; II. Zenith; III. ZAWA!), commissioned by the Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association. They premiered it at Temple University in 2008 with Charles Abramovic at the piano and recorded it for my recently released CD, Inverno Azul (“Blue Winter”).
ZAWA! contributed other ideas for Winds for Change. They wanted to open the piece by evoking the sound of the Native American flute, beginning without accompaniment and gradually coming forward from backstage. The piece begins with simulated wind sounds while gradually-decreasing reverb gives the impression that the flutes are coming from a great distance onto the stage. I titled this section “Canyon Winds” because it captures the vastness (and windiness) of the Canyon Lands—a historical landscape that goes back to the Anasazi Indians. I wanted to evoke the spirit of Native Americans whose respect for nature and the earth contrasts with current attitudes.
The “Hazy Sunrise” section begins in the Canyon Lands, but could easily apply to major cities around the world, where it is rare to see a sunrise because of all the pollutants in the air. The orchestra creates a high-pitched, vague texture. “Morning Mist” introduces raindrops in the orchestra and flutes, which trigger electronic raindrops. This grows into the “Summer Storm,” in which the seemingly safe drizzle turns into a serious hurricane, tsunami, or other natural disaster. This accelerates into “Glacier Calving”—an event that is becoming more common, and which is often quite dramatic. This section is almost completely improvised—for both the flutes and the orchestra. The thunder sheet, used to evoke thunder in the storm, is now used to represent the noise of a large glacier falling into the water; this is followed by a flute cadenza that gradually winds down as a transition to the calm final section, “Ocean Spirits.” This section opens with an ocean drum and evokes a mixed mood of hope and sorrow. It features recorded whale sounds at the beginning and dolphin sounds at the end, suggesting a plea to protect our waters and our earth. Near the end, the flutes quote an American Shape-Note hymn, “Arkansas,” where the text is: “I’ll launch my boat upon the sea; this land is not the land for me.” While this text is certainly a metaphor for death and resurrection, I chose to interpret it more literally.
This composition was made possible, in part, by a study leave from Temple University (spring 2014) and a residency at the American Academy in Rome (Feb-March 2014). I also received a Subito grant from the American Composer’s Forum to commission Jude Rouslin to create the video. Thanks to both Jude and Aleck for their work on this project—and of course to ZAWA! for making it possible.