Last weekend (12/1/2012), I had the pleasure of attending the Richmond Flute Fair while I was in town performing with the national tour of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" at the Landmark Theater (a bit of irony, since in this show, I do not play the flute at all!). I actually had no idea that the flute fair was taking place until late the night before when I saw a post about it on the Nagahara Facebook page. Of course, I HAD to go, and fortunately, the vendors were in the lobby and no registration was needed to visit the vendor tables. The fair was small in terms of number of vendors, but there was an amazingly fantastic array of stock...I was like a kid in a candy store.  (A very, very expensive candy store…) The tables I divided my day between were the Flutist's Faire, (the lovely and fabulous Betsy Trimber, proprietress), which had the largest number of flutes and headjoints, the Nagahara table, which had only 3 flutes and 6 headjoints, but what fabulous flutes they were, and last but CERTAINLY not least, the Flute Pro Shop, owned by the spectacular Joan Sparks.

The purpose of this whole diatribe is to attempt to recount my impressions of the various flutes and headjoints I played that day, and if I have tagged you in this note on Facebook, then it means you are either one of my lovely flutey friends who will probably appreciate this information in some way, or you are one of the vendors/makers I'm discussing and I really liked your product/business/you and want everyone to know about it! :) I will be focusing here on what I liked or what made an impression for one reason or another; I see no reason to post negative reviews of things, especially since there wasn't anything I truly HATED.

Below, I've grouped the instruments/headjoints I wish to review according to vendor and individually addressed them in list form. Enjoy! (And if you look on my FB timeline, you will see video demos of the 14K Miyazawa/Faulisi combo, the 18K Nagahara, the Burkart Resona Piccolo, the 14K Powell, and the silver chased Haynes with gold accents; the former 2 played by myself, the latter 3 by my good friend and colleague Jeremy Clayton)

FLUTE PRO SHOP (Note that all instruments described below are currently available for purchase at Flute Pro Shop) :

****Haynes Classic Fusion w/C# trill - One of the most stunning flutes I've ever played in its price range. Sonically, it blows the Powell Aurumite Conservatory out of the water IMHO, and at under $8,000 with a C# trill, you can't beat it with a stick. The response was immediate, even at the bottom (the opening of the Khatchaturian Concerto was a breeze!), and the headjoint allowed great control in the top (diminuendo al niente on the high A at the end of the cadenza from the Rimsky-K Capriccio Espagnol was just flawless). Mechanism felt quite solid and comfortable under my somewhat large hands, and the flute itself is just beautiful to look at, with a 9K rose gold exterior bonded to a silver interior. Haynes has REALLY stepped up their game lately, and it's impressive. I have more than an inkling that I'm going to own one of these in the next year or so...

****14K Miyazawa/14K Faulisi headjoint; C# trill, C#/D# rollers, Split E, soldered silver toneholes- Wow. For me, this was the jewel of Joan's collection. Before I played it, she jokingly warned "Don't play it on an empty stomach, or you will pass out from the amount of air you need!" As a big ol’ dude who moves an extremely large volume of air when I play, I felt up to the challenge. I was not disappointed...this flute ROARS if you give it all the air you can (which it can handle, thanks to the mastery of Salvatore Faulisi's headjoint), but it is quite capable of a beautiful, shimmery, highly controlled sound. I'd grant the silver toneholes with a bit of this brilliance and flexibility. I tested this flute using Brahms 1, the Carmen Entr'acte, and a bit of Syrinx. It handled all three beautifully, with a huge palette of colors that were very accessible with not a lot of work. Overall, I give this instrument Second Place for the entire day. I would HAPPILY play this flute for the rest of my life. (And honestly, at $20,400, it is not a terrible deal at ALL, given the current prices for new 14K Miyazawas and Faulisi headjoints) Entr'acte from Carmen on this Miyazawa   (And here, I play it AGAIN three months later with no distractions! I WANT THIS FLUTE.)

14K Powell  w/silver mech-  A very straightforward gold bodied Powell (inline G, no C# trill, split E, or add’l rollers), this was a beautiful instrument with a solid core and a large amount of “bite” to the sound. I would have loved to have heard it from some distance away to gauge the projection, but it definitely had that “Powell sound”. Perhaps not *quite* as wide a color palette as some of the other things I tried, but still, it was very full sounding, sort of masculine, if you will. Would be a spectacular instrument for a symphonic  principal player who doesn’t care about having a C# trill.

****Haynes silver body/gold accents/chased keys; C# trill, D# roller, drawn tone holes, offset G – This flute. Wow.  OMG. Exclamation-of-your-choice! This thing was so beautiful I almost didn’t want to stop looking at it long enough to play it. The body and keys are sterling, but everything at ATTACHES to the tube, from the embouchure plate, riser, crown, body/barrel rings, ribs, posts, and KEY ARMS is made of 14K gold, and every key is chased with a beautiful engraving pattern. This thing is really just one of the most stunning flutes I’ve ever seen.  The sound was just out of this world. It had an almost ethereal sparkling quality up top, but could really handle being pushed at the bottom, without ever losing a chocolatey, buttery sort of veneer to the sound. Response was quick, and there was an extremely wide color palette available. It was almost Ferrari-like in how quickly it responded to the slightest change in air speed, mouth shape, throat space, or palate height. Very seductive instrument…if Salome were a flute, this would be it. Jeremy played it, fell crazy in love with it, and played it some more. He just couldn’t put it down…It was a joy to listen to. From a listener’s perspective, the sound just washes over you and the articulation is very clear. A soloist’s instrument if ever there was one. Would also be a wonderful flute for an orchestral 2nd flutist for whom matching the principal’s tone color is paramount. This flute will do what*EVER* you ask it to.

Di Zhao 700 flute – A lovely instrument for an advancing player, a doubler, or a pro who needs a reliable backup. Di Zhao was a longtime employee of Powell, and was responsible for their quality control for quite some time. It shows in his own flutes. They are very reminiscent of a lovely older Powell, with a very beefy but controllable sound. The scale was accurate, as far as I could tell without a tuner (the intervals felt very secure and uniform), and the mechanism is well-crafted. Available with a C# trill, D# roller, split E, and gold riser if you wish.

Haynes Amadeus 900  - Haynes’ answer to the Powell Sonare, I find this instrument to be a bit more refined than the Sonares, though I do adore the Powell Signature headjoint. The Haynes Classic headjoint paired with a well-crafted Asian-made body produces a lovely instrument that I would have absolutely zero qualms about playing in a professional pit situation. Big sound without being overbearing, no “edge”, though there is a limit to how far it can be pushed. I wouldn’t necessarily want to play a Romantic or contemporary concerto on it, but it would shine in Classical and Baroque work, as well as musical theater pits or a college orchestra.  Available with all the same options as the Di Zhao.  (C# trill, D# roller, split E, and gold riser)

***Burkart Resona piccolo – This is a whole damn lot of piccolo for two thousand dollars. The response is off the charts, it plays with zero effort to high B and C, the intonation is superb, the wood its made from is just beautiful, and the sound is sprightly without being overly bright or obnoxious. Very meaty bottom octave and extremely accurate intonation between the first two octaves.  Everyone should have one of these, even if just as a backup to your $10,000 Powell or Keefe or Burkart Custom Deluxe. Miss Lillian is NOT messing around with these piccolos; they are serious business, y’all.

Di Zhao piccolo -  Much like the Di Zhao flute, this thing is SUPERBLY crafted. The sound is dark and lush, and I would have no shame playing this in any professional situation.

Piper Piccolo -  Made of a composite material similar to Buffet’s Greenline, which contains actual wood fibers mixed with a proprietary blend of resins, this piccolo has a lovely warm sound, particularly in the second octave, which tends to suffer from a horrifying sort of unresponsive thinness on most piccolos. BRILLIANT option for people who play outdoors or in pits where the temp is less than stable.  Joan Sparks has a lovely video demo of this piccolo on Youtube …well worth a watch! Joan Sparks Demos the Piper Piccolo

***David Chu headjoints  - (Boxwood, thinned boxwood/ornate mahogany crown, mopane, Mountain mahogany, regular grenadilla, thinned grenadilla/ornate crown) These are listed in the order in which I played them, and honestly, I absolutely could not pick a favorite unless you put a gun to my temple and cocked the hammer, in which case, and ONLY under great duress, would I pick the mopane (which you may also find spelled as Mopani) headjoint. They were ALL spectacular, though, and it would be a great joy to play any of them. I was particularly surprised by the depth of color I got from the boxwood, and any fears of not being able to play loud on a boxwood headjoint or project were quickly squashed.  The mopane wood headjoint had a perfect balance of balls-to-the-wall power and sweetness…I played the exposition of the Romberg B minor concerto on it, which is a completely over-the-top dramatic Romantic era work which spans the majority of the range of the flute in the first 10 seconds, and it handed it beautifully (including a ROARING low C); and then I played the opening of the Telemann Fantasy in A minor, and you’d swear I was playing a traverso. I put all six of these heads on the Haynes Classic Fusion flute, and all six of them were matches made in heaven. David Chu has got to be one of the most gifted craftsmen working in the flute world today. Joan Sparks Plays These Same Six Headjoints, In The Same Order!



NAGAHARA ( Nagahara Website ):

**********18K red gold/platinum riser, C# trill, silver mech, gold toneholes -   Holy sweet mother of cheesecake, THIS FLUTE WAS EVERYTHING. This was the gold medal winner for me, the Big Daddy, the numero uno, Le Grande Fromage of the festival. I exaggerate not at all when I say that I have never in my entire life picked up a flute that from the first second felt like it was crafted specifically for me by Hephaestus himself until I played this flute.  The power of this instrument was astonishing…I actually felt like I could do physical damage to human flesh with the low notes of this instrument. Pant legs flapping in the first row, indeed! The sound was colossal and dark dark dark, but I did not feel that projection was sacrificed, and in listening to the video that Jeremy took of me playing it, it did not seem that projection was an issue. Would that I could have played it in a room alone, but alas there were other Festers testing flutes in the background. It had a knife-edge response, with I would attribute both to the headjoint’s cut (Nagahara’s popular “DA” cut, a combination of their Diligente and Ardore cuts, quite square with some considerable overcutting on the shoulders) and the platinum riser. I really felt like I was blowing into Excalibur. High notes were everything you’d want them to be, and D7 and E7 were completely effortless. (My only wish is that they’d had this flute with an offset G instead of an inline G. My carpal tunnel syndrome makes it difficult to play inline G flutes for long periods of time, and this was the very last flute I had tried all day…by the time I picked this up, my left wrist was pretty much done for. ) Does anybody have $33,000 they’d like to spend on a super nice flute playing fellow for Christmas? :-) Watch Me Be Totally In Love With This Thing

950 silver w/C# trill – The higher silver content of the Nagahara silver alloy (they do not use sterling silver, which is only 92.5% actual silver) lent this flute a bit more depth to the sound and gave it a really lovely patina in the top register. Very comfortable to play, response was lovely, and it was perfectly pleasant in every way.

***950PT50 w/C# trill and D# roller – Another major winner for me. I discovered earlier in the day that I really, REALLY like the new 5% platinum alloys being used in flutemaking these days, and this flute bore out that discovery. It was quite a bit heavier than a silver instrument, and the sound was just delicious. I felt that I could really dig into it and make it scream down at the bottom, but also still project with a soft, cottony tone color if I so chose. (The Faure Pavane was the proof of this particular pudding).

16K gold Galway headjoint  - Oy vey, this headjoint was a BEAST! (In the best way). Beautiful palette, tremendous spin in the mid/upper register, warm velvety sound throughout the range. It wasn’t perhaps the most responsive thing I’d played all day, but it certainly cuts the mustard! Feel free to buy me one if you like ;-)

14K DA cut headjoint ­ -  Like the 18K/plat riser head without the steroids. Big, manly, beefy, stentorian sound with considerable control.

Also worth mentioning is the Nagahara thumb key design…it is really, REALLY freaking comfortable, man.  It looks cool, and feels even better!

FLUTISTS FAIRE ( Note that all the belowmentioned instruments/headjoints are available at the Flutist's Faire Website ):

Flutes:

***Bernhard Hammig Mezzo M1  - This instrument was nothing short of a revelation. Those of you who are savvy in your knowledge of European flute makers are probably aware that German flutemaking scion Bernhard Hammig is making some of the FINEST flutes on the planet these days, including a mind-blowingly fabulous 22K gold instrument. Recently, in conjunction with Jason Blank, he has dipped his toe into the “High End Flute Makers’ Not Quite So Hideously Expensive Lines” pool, and what a splash he’s made!  The Mezzo comes in three models, the M1, M2 and M3; the M1 having a body made of a proprietary alloy that is then heavily silver-plated, the M2 being sterling with drawn toneholes, and the M3 sterling with soldered toneholes. All Mezzo flutes come standard with a 94.5% silver headjoint (again, we have a higher silver content in the alloy than basic sterling). The M1 was the model on display that day, and I’ll tell you what…no WAY would I have pegged that as a non-precious-metal-bodied instrument. It was smooth as French silk pie, and had a very, very well thought out scale. The mechanism felt wonderful under the fingers, and Hammig’s keycup design is beautiful…it’s as though the Miyazawa “Modern” key style (which, incidentally, I REALLY wish they would bring back) from the 80s-90s and Powell’s millennially-inspired 2100/3100 keycups had a very stylish baby.  With the stock headjoint, the response and overall sonic feel were very much that of a fine silver instrument; effortless lows, a rich middle, and shimmering highs. Switching out the head for 2 of the other Hammig heads Betsy had on display (15% gold and 9K gold), though, put this flute into a completely different orbit. I’ll go into more detail about the headjoints later on, but suffice it to say that this flute, priced at an UNBELIEVABLE $2,995 (with available C# trill or D# roller) is a complete and utter MUST TRY for anybody who is in the market for a mid-priced flute. Though I didn’t try them, I would quite wager that, based on the performance and build quality of the M1, the M2 or M3 would be enough flute to last 95% of flute players for the rest of their careers/lives/family dynasties/until the sun expands and engulfs the Earth. *Worth noting is that Hammig offers a discount headjoint upgrade with this flute to a 15% gold head, 9K gold head, or various gold riser/lip options on the silver head, and it’s an option well worth considering if you REALLY want to move  your playing to that next level. A Short Demo Of the Mezzo M1 w/15% gold headjoint   Another demo (focusing on the low register)  A Much Longer Discussion and Demo Of The Mezzo 

Trevor James Recital Aria w/soldered toneholes – From Merry Olde England comes this lovely instrument, crafted by the awesome folks at Trevor James. Many of us have long been familiar with TJ as a reliable, solid student/intermediate level instrument, particularly loved by pit doublers (in fact, I shall be playing a Trevor James on my upcoming international Broadway touring gig, as I learned the hard way 5 years ago on my first tour what happens when you take your solid 14K gold flute on the road...), but with the new Recital series, TJ has firmly established themselves as a marque to take seriously in the upper-level flute world. Now, while these flutes do not approach the Boston/Japanese/Continental flutemakers in price, (a silver Brannen, for example, starts at over $12,000, and a fully loaded TJ Aria is somewhere around half that price), they certainly are approaching them in quality. The Aria has full sterling construction and is made with soldered toneholes; something I believe is a first for Trevor James. The headjoint is a Flutemakers Guild of London head, and if you’re familiar with the work of Ewan McDougall, Harry Seeley, Howel Roberts, Michael Allen, or Robert Bigio, then you know the quality of these headjoints. This is a SERIOUS flute for a serious player on a budget. I particularly enjoyed the bell-like quality of the upper half of the flute’s range, and a very alto-flute sort of timbre down the bottom. Full complement of options available, this flute is WELL worth a try.

***14K Burkart, drawn toneholes – Where to start with this Burkart? (See what I did there?) Firstly, it’s beautiful. Lillian Burkart is a total artistic genius. The shape and length of her G# key, the lines of the keycups, the engraving on the barrel; it’s all exceedingly beautiful. They look just different enough from every other flute in the fine details to be unique, but still maintain a very traditional appearance. I am also quite in love with the color of Burkart’s 14K gold alloy. It’s a lovely burnished sunset-rose color, and looks good under any lighting conditions! Having gotten the shallow stuff out of the way, let’s talk about how this flute plays. It plays like BUTTAH, (if you’re Linda Richman). This thing sings like Jessye Norman at her peak; I say Jessye Norman and not, say, Dame Joan Sutherland because this particular flute has a dark, round, velvety quality that is very reminiscent of Jessye’s 1990 Strauss “Four Last Songs” recording. This is one of the flutes that both Jeremy and I played, and we had very similar impressions of it. As a player, it felt very much like an equal partner…it helped me do whatever I wanted to do with it. Giant, room-filling Brahms 1? Got it. Reserved, straight-forward Bolero? Yep. That, too.  Floaty, seraphic Mozart D major Concerto 2nd movement? Oh yeah, baby. It’s there. It was a flute that felt like a friend after the first three minutes. From a listener’s point of view, much like the silver/gold Haynes at Joan’s table, the sound was just sort of all around you at once…it was beautiful and had just the right amount of overtones present to give the impression of clarity and projection without brightness or shrillness. Rapid articulations sound separate but pillowy, lacking any kind of a pecky quality. Really just a lovely, lovely flute.

14K Burkart, soldered toneholes – I expected this flute to be mostly similar to the one above, but wow was it NOT. It had a very distinctive personality, and was quite a bit harder to tame. It didn’t feel so much like a partner as a teenager that needs a little convincing to clean her room, but is glad she did when she’s done. It was a little more resistant than I’d expected, and I had to work a bit harder in the top to control the tone color and intonation, but once I got used to it, it was really quite a fun instrument to play. Kind of like the flute version of driving a sports car. This was definitely not a flute you could set the cruise control on…it had to be driven, but it was totally worth it. This would be an ideal flute for a principal player in a big orchestra, or someone who makes most of their living as a soloist. You could absolutely BURY an orchestra with this thing.

****Burkart 595 Ag/PT – Whoa. Didn’t expect this instrument to give me chills when I played it, but it did. That 5% platinum (“595” refers to 5% platinum, 95% silver in the alloy) really turns silver into a mean, lean projection machine. Not only is this alloy substantially heavier than sterling silver (but not awkwardly so), it behaves completely differently. The first thing I said after I played a minute or so on this was “Wow, this flute is a DUDE.” Masculine is the only way I can think of to describe this instrument. The basic sound this instrument wants to produce is BIG. It’s wide, it’s deep, it goes to the back of the hall, and you can feel it in your bones. This flute made me grin involuntarily every time I stopped playing it, and I kept going back to it all day. With the stock headjoint, this flute was a 9.5 out of 10…when I put the 9K gold Bernhard Hammig headjoint on it, it turned into a 15 out of 10. The color options were endless, and it became 10 instruments in one. This flute was in my top 3 of the day, for sure!

Burkart .998 silver  - This flute was the final of the Burkart “Elite” flutes I played, and it was really a treat. The .998 silver (an alloy of 99.8% pure silver alloyed with what I would imagine to be titanium, iridium, platinum, rhodium or germanium for strength) was really quite surprising.  It provides an experience very similar to a low-karat gold or a platinum flute; it had power for DAYS, projection to spare, and a very interesting color palette. In visual terms, it felt like the majority of the colors it wanted to offer were in the blue/purple spectrum, though with some manipulation, it was amenable to warming up a bit. I actually quite liked the frostiness of the sound, though…it was very characteristically “flutey”, and I’d love to hear one of these soaring above a symphony orchestra in a Tchaikovsky or Beethoven symphony.

Burkart Pro 9K/Ag – Burkart’s “Professional” line is the current incarnation of what was “Burkart & Phelan”, a slightly less expensive line, still totally handmade in Burkart’s shop. The 9K/Ag is Burkart’s answer to Powell’s 9K Aurumite and Haynes’ 9K Fusion…a tube of solid 9K gold metallurgically fused to a tube of sterling silver (gold side out). Looks like a solid gold flute, but you won’t have to mortgage the house or sell a kidney to buy one. This flute felt much like the drawn tonehole 14K flute, with a bit more lightness to its persona. “Midsummer Night’s Dream” came out beautifully, and the Perilhou Ballade SANG on this thing.

*****Burkart Resona 300 9K lip – Alright, y’all, now THIS is some business right here. I mean, WHAT?! This flute is crazy good, and I cannot believe they are as inexpensive as they are. For WELL under $5,000, you are getting pure Burkart awesomeness. This flute blew me the heck AWAY! It freaking SINGS, and much like the 14K drawn Burkart, the Magic Haynes, and the Nagahara, it will do anything. You. Tell. It. To. With a solid 9K gold lip (silver riser, though) and a C# trill on the heavy-wall (.018”) sterling body, this flute is a serious contender in the mid-price pro flute market. (They say pre-professional, but honestly, if you need more flute than this, then you already have a top notch job where you can afford it) This and the Hammig Mezzo are absolute game-changers in the flute world, as far as I am concerned. These two flutes would take ANY flutist through conservatory and into a career without a doubt. This flute is the dream of woodwind doublers everywhere who long for a spectacular flute but can’t afford a $10,000-$40,000 flute because of all the other instruments we have to own. Please, please try one of these if you are in the market for a new flute. I don’t think you’ll be sorry at all. (You can also get it with a silver lip but a 14K gold riser.)

Guo New Voice flute  - This is the lightest flute I have ever played in my life. Made of a space-age composite material, this instrument weighs about the same as a recorder, I swear to God. The keys are plastic, and the pads are silicon…however, this thing PLAYS. I mean, it REALLY plays. Great, sprightly sound, very very easy response, especially down at the bottom, and you certainly don’t have to worry about anything happening to it! Play this thing outdoors until your fingers fall off, even in the rain. Certainly won’t hurt it! Would be fantastic for chamber music or maybe a recital of Baroque music.

Guo New Voice piccolo – Now this was a real surprise…as nice as the New Voice flute is, I don’t know that I’d really seriously play it in a professional situation on a long-term basis, if only because the key mechanism (particularly the thumb keys) feels entirely too spongy to really dig into the good stuff. HOWEVER, the NV piccolo? In a heartbeat, baby. Put a blindfold on, and I’d dare you to tell the difference between this and a decent wooden or high-end composite instrument. It’s SEVEN HUNDRED FREAKING BUCKS! For that price, buy two and give one to a friend! They’re that good. Big bottom, full colorful second octave, and that top octave just screams right out. As Betsy said, “If I was going to play Stars & Stripes, THIS is the picc I’d do it on!”

Headjoints:

9K Hammig  - Glorious. Just…glorious. This headjoint has to have been made with some kind of ancient Elvish magic, because good LORD, does this thing sing. I put it on several different flutes, but the 2 that really stood out as ideal partners were the Hammig Mezzo and the Burkart 595. This headjoint has a downright woody quality, and despite being made of gold, does not have any of the heaviness or darkness typically associated with gold. I kept coming back to it over the course of the day, and people kept saying “My god, it sounds like wood!” I was able (quite easily) to get a big orchestral soloistic sound out of it, but where this head really wants to live is in that timbral space between sweet and bel canto. It’s like putting a beautiful mezzo-soprano’s larynx on your flute. I want one.  

15% gold Hammig  - As effusive as I was about the 9K Hammig, I double the praise for the 15% gold Hammig. (BTW, if you’re curious, this works out to approximately 3.5K gold) WHAT A SOUND! I put this first on the Mezzo M1 flute, and I nearly fell down. If I were to order an M1 right now, I would pay the additional $1,300 and get the 15% gold headjoint…it makes THAT much of a difference. The complexity of the sound is literally indescribable…I just can’t tell you what it sounded like without sounding like a lunatic. Just wow. I really, really would love one of these. NOW. #VerucaSalt

Platinum Powell  - Precisely what you would expect from a platinum Powell headjoint: Sonority, power, seductiveness, and projection ALL DAY LONG. As with most other platinum heads I’ve played, this one had a solid gold lip and crown. Beautiful to look at, didn’t fit in a lot of the bodies I tried it on, sadly, but the ones I DID get it into all benefited greatly from the boost that this platinum headjoint gave them. A major symphony/soloists headjoint for SURE.

Sheridan silver w/gold lip/plat riser  - A fine example of Dana Sheridan’s work, this silver tubed/gold lip/platinum riser combo gave a wealth of tonal options, but none of them overwhelmingly unbalanced or overly large in sound. This head would be a great upgrade to a sterling flute for someone wishing to expand their color palette and perhaps stretch their dynamic range without having to purchase a whole new flute.

Trevor James wood lip  - Whoa, nelly. This thing is HOT, and come hell or high water, I’m gonna buy one.  Sterling tube, lip AND riser both made out of grenadilla wood. This headjoint gives the burnished, warm sound of wood on TOP of the sparkle and projection of silver. It’s like a chocolate covered icicle…it’s splendid in every way, and it looks absolutely STUNNING on a silver flute!

Gerhard Sachs 14K – Exactly what I’d hoped for from a German gold headjoint; darkness, mystery, and a nice almost smoky quality to the sound. Best matched the Burkart 595 flute, and did wondrous things for every silver body I put it on. (Now what I wouldn’t give to try one of Sachs’ wooden flutes!)

Burkart .998/gold riser M2 – A picnic for the ears, this headjoint is like a Jackson Pollock painting in your cochlea. SO MUCH COLOR! I wanted to put it on every single flute at the fair and record it, but of course I didn’t have time (or the battery life) for that. Lillian Burkart is like, the Meryl Streep of the flute world. The woman can just do no wrong!

Burkart .998 M2  - Similar to the above headjoint, but slightly less complex with a bit more purity and perhaps clarity to the sound. Still a most intriguing headjoint, and one that every flutist should consider adding to their arsenal. This thing was BORN to play Syrinx on!

++I’d like to add that the Burkart M2 headjoint cut is by FAR my preferred one of the 2 she has available; the M2 is very square and provides a player who can really move some air an unlimited box of crayons to draw with; I really find the C4 (Acton) cut to give a beautiful, round, French, Rampal-y sound, but I also found that I rather easily overpowered it and got some chokeback if I didn’t watch myself.

Burkart 14K C4 – When I played this headjoint, the first image that popped into my mind, bizarrely, was a scene from the film “Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, where we see a beautiful little French high street of shops, full of women in mod A-line coats out doing their shopping.  Very old-school sounding, delicate, light, French-y, if you will, but with guts and a healthy amount of resistance. It makes me feel like if I played it enough and wished on the right full moon, Jean-Pierre Rampal would appear and play a Bach sonata for me or something. If this is your style of playing, this headjoint will be your dream headjoint!

In summation, I would like to thank the organizers of the Richmond Flute Festival for affording Richmond flutists the chance to experience these marvels of craftsmanship, and of course a huge debt of gratitude to the makers of these flutes and headjoints, and to Joan Sparks and Betsy Trimber for recognizing that the flute world needs them to bring these amazing products to the people (and also for being so damn fashionable and fun!!)   

(***Asterisks denote flutes/headjoints I felt to be particularly noteworthy; number of stars correlates to approximate level of total crap-your-pants awesomeness)











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