La Flute de Pan” is one of the shows that we recommend that you see at the Adelaide Fringe (you can see the entire list here). You can see the show on Sunday 18 February or Wednesday 7 March. Tickets are available here. I spoke with Melanie Walters the flutist in the show.
You’re an Adelaide based flautist but known for more than just the flute. You have played beer bottles and party whistles on ABC Classic FM, performed in paper aprons and mittens in a Massachusetts art gallery and also part of the 2000 piece marching band for the Sydney 2000 Olympics opening ceremony. What has been your career highlight so far?
Probably Bang on a Can, which is the festival in Massachusetts. Bang on a Can is a new music organization that started about 30 years ago. It’s contemporary classical music but they are quite stylistically broad. We were dressed in hand-made paper outfits made by the artist Anne Hamilton and did lots of other things like African drumming and dancing as well as traditional classical performance.
Were you invited to perform there?
Accepted. It’s like a fellowship program so there were 30 fellows and 5 of them were from Australia that year which was nice.
What year was that?
Tell us about your Adelaide Fringe show “La Flute de Pan”.
It’s all solo flute music based on Greek mythology. I got the idea from the French piece in the programme “Syrinx” by Debussy, which is a quite well-known solo flute piece which was written in the early 20th century. It’s actually from a play – the flute player is off-stage playing this creepy music while the Greek God Pan is creeping around in the background spying on some nymphs. There is so much music written about that particular Greek God Pan because panpipes are obviously similar to the flute.
Are you playing any other French composers
Probably not. I’m trying to get a range of different Greek Gods rather than 5 songs about Pan. There’s plenty of Greek music about Pan but unfortunately not about the others.
Why should people come to see your show?
I think it’s all really great music to listen to. A lot of it is music you won’t hear very often in Adelaide. Bryan Ferneyhough is sometimes called a new complexity composer which is hyper-complex, very difficult music so not many people are silly enough to try it! The Thea Musgrave piece is called Narcissist. It’s a really exciting piece for flute and it’s her 90th birthday in a few months so it’s nice that it has lined up.
Is it mainly all classical music?
I would say it’s kind of tangentially related to classical. Because it’s contemporary a lot of it is using extended techniques so you have sounds you wouldn’t usually hear in classical music. It’s like air sounds and different articulations.
Who is the show best suited to?
People who are open-minded. Some of it is classical so there’s something in there for classical audiences. People who are curious and open-minded about different genres of music. People who like the flute of course because it’s an hour of flute music.
Have you played the show before?
In keeping with the French, which of Claude Debussy’s works is your favourite and why?
I’ve definitely got a soft spot for “Syrinx” which I learnt probably 20 years ago when I was in high school and I teach it to my flute students quite a lot. It’s a fantastic piece with a lot of room for interpretation in it. And to explore the different tone colours you can use on the flute. The other one that I think is quite important historically is the “Prelude to the Afternoon of the Fawn“. It’s another fluty one which starts with an extended flute solo before the rest of the orchestra joins in. It’s a really beautiful piece.
The French Flute School is pretty influential in how we play today. The modern instrument that we play today was invented by a German in the mid-1800s but the early 20th century at the Paris Conservatoire were the first group of flute players to latch onto the new design and really explore the different tone colours and dynamic range and that sort of thing and that has been quite influential in how we play the flute now with lots of vibrato.
Are you performing the show interstate?
Looking at maybe taking it to some other festivals.
You can see the show at the Adelaide Fringe on 18 February and 7 March.