#NFA2015: A Convention Virgin's View

I have no idea why it never happened until last weekend...I mean, I really, really love flutes. A lot. I've been to tons of regional flute fairs, and conventions for nearly every other instrument I play that HAS a convention. (Ask me about the year that I thought I could pull off Schnittke at the American Viola Society Festival...I still have nightmares.) Last summer, I went to both the International Clarinet Association convention AND the International Double Reed Society convention in the same week! 

Yet...

I have never been to the National Flute Association convention...until now. 

In a hilariously ironic twist of fate, two years ago, the convention was held in New Orleans. Where I, you know, LIVED at the time. I literally could have *walked* from my living room to the hotel in 10 minutes. I didn't go. 

Why? 

I was performing in Tokyo.  #facepalm (Not that that's exactly a terrible reason...)

So when my dear, lovely friend Betsy Winslow Trimber, proprietrix of the esteemed Flutist's Faire (go ahead, click on it!) in Virginia, asked me over a glass of wine after the last night of the New York Flute Fair a few months ago if I'd be interested in volunteering at her booth this year at NFA, of course I jumped at the chance. Of all the conventions out there, the NFA has always been the one I longed to attend most. 

All that gold! All that platinum! All that wood! Yes, I'll do it! 

...as it turned out, however, in addition to the dream-like field of flutes, there was also all that butchered Daphnis! All that mangled Voliere! ALL THE HIGH Cs ON ALL THE PICCOLOS. 

(And I thought the clarinet convention last year was bad, with all those horrific Rhapsody in Blue smears.)

But I digress. Though my primary function at the NFA this year was to man Betsy's table of wonders (she had some KILLER flutes that I'll tell you about in a bit), I did manage to do a bit of wandering and discovery. I didn't try nearly as many flutes as I'd thought I might, but I did make sure to hit a couple of things that were DEFINITELY on my list. 

Let us start with a couple of the products that were new for NFA this year that I found particularly noteworthy (and before we begin, I must disclaim as always that I am in no way being compensated or coerced into writing any of this; these are purely opinions of my own formation): 

THE SANKYO BASS FLUTE

Sweet mother of Barbra, this thing has singlehandedly changed the bass flute game forever. Sankyo has created a bass flute that is actually capable of projection in the lower register! This bass has a huge sound, down to the low B (LOW B!), and plays with an almost C-flute-like homogeneity and ease of response the whole way up to the top of the third octave. Gone is that weird woofy, boomy. hollow bassflute sound in the middle octave, the weak, buzzy, anemic bottom octave, and the screamy, edgy, wine-bottle-overtone top octave. It is truly a joy to play, and the redesigned ergos are an absolute dream. The teardrop-shaped key touches are incredibly comfortable, and ideally spaced. The footjoint keys are easily reached, and it balances beautifully in the left hand. It's silver-plated except for the lip and riser, which are sterling, so it isn't nearly as heavy as it looks. At $15,000, you'd have to do some HARD justifying to buy one (unless you have that cash just lying around), since there isn't exactly a ton of rep for the bass flute outside of the flute choir/jazz/contemporary music world, but if those particular spheres are your thing, and you can afford it, BUY THIS DAMN THING. (Then let me borrow it, pretty please?) It really does make every other bass flute out there just feel...depressing. 

Then again, it's a Sankyo, so what did you expect? ;-) #TeamSankyo 

The Bernhard HAMMIG "Mezzo" MK II 

You may recall that when I first started this blog, one of the very first instruments I wrote about was the Hammig "Mezzo" flute, which I tried at Betsy's table at the Richmond Flute Fair back in December of 2012, and I absolutely raved about it. 

Well, Jason Blank and Bernhard Hammig have been hard at work in their secret underground lab (I'm making that part up), and have released a new version of the Mezzo called the MK II, which has a .950 silver body and is priced exactly at the Muramatsu GX/entry pro flute price point (just about $6,000 even). Now, from previous blogs, you all know how I feel about high-purity silver alloys (I love them), so I knew I was going to like this instrument. What I didn't know was just how MUCH I was going to like this instrument, and how different it is from the previous generation. 

There aren't really adequate adjectives to describe the complexity of the sound of this flute. It is so colorful that at times it seems like you'll never find the right place and time to use all of those colors; there are so many ways you can go with the sound. It also packs an enormous amount of power, particularly with the new headjoint cut that Jason and Bernhard have come up with. The prior BH heads were a more traditional, oval-style that required you to have a pretty serious grasp on what you were doing already in order to get the most out of it; the new head is geared to the Bigger, Louder, Edgier American style of playing, but without sacrificing the tonal palette that they created these flutes to provide. I love them both, but I would be lying to your face if I said I didn't wish I could have walked out of the Marriott with the new cut. The BTUs you can crank out of this thing could burn a house down. I remember standing at their booth (which was at the very end/beginning of a long row on the far side of the exhibit hall) and playing Brahms 1 with as much air as I could force out of my rather colossal lungs, and not only did the sound never flatten or break, but I'm pretty sure people at the other end of the hall turned to look and see what the f*k just happened. (Or maybe they were just glad it wasn't Daphnis or Mozart G, I dunno...) 

The point is, wow. With the stock 95% silver setup, you're getting a flutefetti cannon. 

Then I started messing around with gold headjoints. 

I still haven't recovered. 

Jason has recently taken delivery of a 95% silver handmade custom Hammig flute with one of his unreal 22K yellow gold headjoints for use as his own personal instrument. He let me take this headjoint and put it on the MK II, and I'm pretty sure I cried.

 First of all, the 22K headjoint is un. believably. beautiful. I know most of you out there are like "Ugh, yellow gold, GROSS! #Rosegoldplz", but I happen to find yellow gold stunning. (On a fun note, unlike the other 22K gold head out there, the Lafin, this one does NOT come with a rosegold 14K lip/crown, but is actually ALL 22K yellow gold. #baller) 

Secondly, it is the flutey equivalent of what happens when you make Bruce Banner mad. There is not an orchestra on earth you could not bury with this thing, Bruckner be damned. With this headjoint, you are king of the world. 

It's also $13,000, so if you can afford it, you probably really ARE the king of the world.

I then put on the BH 15% gold head (which I have also previously raved about) with a gold riser, and it felt like someone had reached into my brain, pulled out my dream flute sound, and spun it into an instrument. Just like with the 15% gold head I had on the Mezzo M1 that Jason and Betsy sent me a couple years ago, it was the perfect match to my playing style, but the gold riser added a bit of assertiveness that maybe wasn't quite as easy to achieve without it. (I blow big, I can't help it. Have you SEEN my ribcage?) 

The ergos on this one are also fantastic...Jason has redesigned the G# key to be much longer and at a more natural angle for the left hand pinky, and the right hand pinky cluster just sits there right under the finger like a patient puppy. He's also redesigned the keycups to be a bit more traditional-looking, as opposed to the contemporary Powell 3100-like design of the Hammig custom and prior generation Mezzos (which, frankly, I like better. It's gorgeous, and lets you know that you are playing something special that stands out from the pack!) 

There are one or two more developments with this flute in the works (Jason is redesigning the C# trill key, for example. I'm REALLY looking forward to the result of that experiment, because as we all know, I find that key absolutely imperative on a flute, and wouldn't seriously consider purchasing a flute without one.) 

I gotta say, though, Sexy Readers, if you're in the market for a new flute and you want something that just might be your Forever Flute but can't cough it up for gold or a $13,000 soldered-tone-hole silver Brannen et al, you really, REALLY need to try one of these. Either contact Jason directly via Bernhard Hammig North America, or reach out to one of the nicest guys in the biz, Bill Hutzel, who owns The Flute Loft in New Jersey and is a dealer for the complete Hammig line (including the AMAZEBALLS Magic Crown as well as the handmade flutes). The vixenous Betsy Trimber of The Flutist's Faire can also hook you up...she's also a great resource for getting your hands on a Hammig custom headjoint, as she has some in her current stock for immediate trial/purchase. TRY THEM.

Any one of them would be happy to figure out how to get one of these puppies in your hands for a trial! 


BERNHARD HAMMIG CUSTOM HANDMADE FLUTES

So we've talked about the Mezzo, now let's talk about Bernhard's custom flutes, painstakingly and brilliantly crafted by him in his workshop in Lahr, Germany. There were several on offer, including the personal 9k rose gold flute of one of my favorite NYC-area solo flutists who I finally had the incredible pleasure of meeting in person, the stunningly beautiful Carla Lancellotti Auld, who had Bernhard build her a flute last year (and sounds INCREDIBLE on it!), which she generously donated to the table for the duration of the convention so that people could try it. In addition to Carla's flute, there was also...are you ready for this...a 9k WHITE GOLD flute! I have never, ever in all the years I have been flute-obsessed seen a 9k white gold alloy. There were also several silver flutes (.943 and .950), and what may have been my favorite...a wooden one. 

The silver ones (including Jason Blank's personal flute) were all like turbo-version of the .950 Mezzo. Color and power to spare, and much more satisfying to play than your average sterling silver flute. (I kind of hate sterling silver, but I think we've covered that before). 

Carla's 9K flute (with 14K headjoint) gave me goosebumps and a serious case of Flute Envy. It was like what I'd imagine driving a Porsche for the first time would be like...if I knew how to drive. Smooth, but always a sense of the potential power humming right underneath the surface. When that power is finally unleashed (Brahms 1 again; it's my default test for How Obnoxious Can I Get Before This Sounds Bad), it does not disappoint. There is a sort of shimmer on top of the sound that I think you can only really get from a low-karat gold, but it's a dark kind of shimmer, very unlike that of silver. Sort of like purple glitter, I would say. 

Side note: It is virtually impossible to crack an E6 on a Hammig flute.

As much as I loved Carla's pink beauty, when I picked up the 9k white gold, I seriously just about died. The difference in density and hardness between the two alloys was very apparent in the sound. Whereas the rose 9K alloy was sensuous but assertive and sort of silky (like Carla herself, actually!), the white gold was direct, piquant, and sort of...bossy. I loved it. Literally could not put it down, and the only thing that made me stop playing it was how badly I wanted to get my hands on the wood flute. 

The wood flute he had with him was a classic grenadilla flute with a gorgeous bulb-style headjoint (kind of like a huge piccolo), and good lord, was it everything I had hoped for! I took it into the soundproof booth that Jason had brought along and gave it a good spin. This flute is the perfect example of why we must take wood flutes seriously as an option for not just solo and chamber, but orchestral playing. The wood Hammig PROJECTS, but with a burnished sound that could easily make one weep. Highs are extremely easy to control and spin, and you can flap pant legs with the low notes if you wish. I would very, very much love to hear someone play Bolero in an orchestra on this flute! It is also really quite reasonably priced for a handmade wooden instrument, right in line with the Sankyo and Powell flutes. Gold mechanism and gold-plated mechanism are options, as are full engraving, rollers, a C# trill, and COCUSWOOD! :-) (This makes me happy) He only has enough cocus for five more flutes, though, so buy one now (and one for me, please. I'd love you forever.) 

There was also a wooden headjoint made to fit a silver flute, and it was exactly what I'd expected from Bernhard. I have a feeling one might be finding its way into my house sooner rather than later...my TJ needs a sibling! :) 


THE LEVIT FLUTE


I've been trying to figure out for quite some time what to say about Lev Levit and David Houston's flutes, because I want to make sure that I accurately convey how special they are. Ever since the morning my friend Jesse Han and I visited their hotel room the day after the New York Flute Fair and tried a wide range of their flutes and headjoints, I've been fixated on these instruments. Like the Hammig flutes, the Levit instruments possess a color spectrum that you just do NOT find on the vast majority of flutes being made today. This is not to say that our friends in Boston are not turning out incredible flutes, because they are, but every once in a while, you come across a flute that has a very different voice, and speaks to a very special sort of individualistic player, and I think that Levit has done just that. 

Lev and David have between them a combined 40+ years of experience in the flutemaking industry, having worked extensively for both Brannen and Powell. The Levit flute is in fact built upon the foundation of the Oston-Brannen flute, which was the original Kingma system flute. Lev first began his flute company with the production of a Kingma system flute, and expanded to offer standard flutes as well, in silver and gold. A tireless experimenter, Lev has developed a new acoustical design for the flute, which he calls the Modified Acoustic. These flutes are more colorful, provide greater projection with less work, and are near-flawlessly in tune compared to a large number of flutes on the market. 

I have played about a dozen of the Levit flutes, in both gold and silver, Traditional and Modified acoustic, standard and Kingma systems, and I would be more than happy to put on a blindfold, pick up any one of them, and play it for the rest of my life. 

It truly is nearly impossible to describe these flutes, so visit their website at Levit Flutes, or contact my amazing friend Joan Sparks at the Flute Pro Shop, the exclusive dealer for Levit Flutes, and get one on trial. Now. Seriously, you have to. I said so. (She has a particularly special Levit in stock right now, #114, for an absurdly delicious price for a 14K gold flute. My birthday is Sept. 29th...thanks in advance! ;-) ) 


TREVOR JAMES 14K GOLD-IN-SILVER FLUTE

So, with the gold-layered alloy craze that is sweeping the flute world (Powell started it with their Aurumite, and now Haynes and Burkart are each offering their own versions of a gold and silver tube fused together), it was only a matter of time before other makers started experimenting with it. English flute superstars Trevor James have just joined in that particular game, and while they are currently working on both 9k and 14K gold fused tubes with both gold-inside and gold-outside versions, the 14K Inside version was on display at NFA this year. 

If you've been following the blog lately, you'll know that I have developed a very close relationship with Trevor James in the past year, and am just a HUMONGOUS fan of their flutes. So, naturally, it was with great excitement that I tried this particular prototype...I don't think I was quite prepared for how well they'd pulled it off, though. This flute is really, really good. It had all the complexity of the Powell 14K Aurumite flute with perhaps just a bit more lightness, and there was a really nice mellowness to the upper register that I enjoyed. I think with a gold lip and/or riser, this flute will be an absolute monstrous beast that will make the world sit up and take very strong notice of TJ as a maker of fully-professional flutes and not just student/intermediate models. 

I am so, so excited to try the 9K and gold-outside versions, I can hardly stand it! Stay tuned for updates on this whole project :) 


lefreQue

I was first exposed to the lefreQue acoustic bridges last year, when I played a production of Into The Woods, and our bassoonist had all these strange-looking contraptions on his instrument. I had briefly read about them online, so I knew what they were, but I had never met anybody who had them, and certainly never seen them in real life. I was intrigued, and he swore by them, so I decided to investigate further...

Well, they work, kids. They work amazingly well. I won't bore you with a long scientific explanation of how they work, but the basic premise is that all of our instruments come apart in pieces, right? Well, when you put these pieces together, they don't magically fuse into one unbroken tube, so they don't vibrate like one. 

The lefreQues are, in essence, acoustic wave bridges that assist in the propagation of vibrations from one section of our instruments to the next. They are offered in a wide selection of materials, all with slightly different properties, and they really do make a difference. 

At NFA last weekend, I tried them on a couple of different flutes, including a gold-bonded Muramatsu that I really loved but also felt had some stifled potential; I put the lefreQues on it between the headjoint and the barrel, and it felt like I had picked up a different flute. The overtones were more present, the dynamic range was larger, and it was all-around just more fun to play. It seemed like I had more control over what was coming out of it, and I would also swear in a court of law that it was more in tune. 

Definitely worth a try, and overall, not a terribly large amount of money for a potentially large improvement to your musical life. (Certainly less than buying a new flute, or even a new headjoint!) 




That's about all for the new/noteworthy stuff that I tried (as I said, I really didn't get much of a chance at all to attack the exhibit hall in an organized way and try everything), but now I'd like to discuss some of the wonderful and interesting instruments I played at various tables, many of which I've written about before, but have formed deeper opinions on. 



THE FLUTIST'S FAIRE

I will start with the whole reason I was there at all...the Flutist's Faire. Betsy does a great job of curating interesting instruments to offer, and she had a gem-laden collection at NFA this year. Of her high-end offerings, first and foremost was a flute she had on consignment from a German collector, a very interesting (and heavy!) platinum flute by German maker Gerhard Sachs, who you may recall from my wooden flute blog. This thing was a BEAST. The body was platinum, and everything that attached to it (ribs, rings, toneholes, lip, riser, crown) was 14K rose gold. The mechanism is gold also, but appears to be a mixture of rose and pale yellow or white gold. The LH1 C key was also open holed, even though there is no tonehole under that key. It felt very cool, and sort of made sense, I guess, in that the rest of your fingers sit on open holes, so why not make them all feel the same? It had a huge voice, very dark sound, and was a bit difficult to play for all but the strongest air columns. Definitely not a flute for the casual flutist or small player, but for SOMEONE, this will be an absolute dream flute. Yours for only $60,000! :-) 






Next in line, from that same German collector, was a very special all-14K gold closed-hole Powell, from the era when the barrels were still engraved with the logo and not the body. The headjoint had Powell's new Adler-esque wings, so it was either a new headjoint, or they had been added post-production. This flute, despite its all gold construction, had a very sweet voice with a lot of character, and really liked to float in the upper register. At $33,000, it is actually an extremely good deal for an all gold flute! It features a B foot, offset G, and split E mechanism. 

After that we had my next favorite flute after the platinum, a 14K gold Powell from a similar vintage era as the previous, with a silver mechanism, inline G, C# trill key, and B foot. (Open holes this time). THIS flute was really something; I don't know exactly what it was, but I connected with it almost instantly on a very deep level. The headjoint style was very old-school, in that it was quite oval and on the smallish side, with very little under/overcutting. Very colorful instrument, not an ENORMOUS voice, but would be quite suitable for pit work, soloing, or chamber orchestra. An excellent instrument for the recording artist. It is also only $19,000, which makes it an unbelievably once-in-a-lifetime deal for someone looking for a gold Powell. 



Rounding out the consignment-gold-Powell-family on offer were not one but TWO 9K Aurumite Powell 3100 flutes, both priced at an insanely reasonable $6,500, both with the P style headjoint, and both with absolutely killer huge sounds. These are very popular with doublers/jazz players, and are a wonderful, wonderful flute for the college student or adult amateur who wants the look and sound of gold with that Powell sound, but can't afford the scratch for a new 9K Aurumite Conservatory, which will now run you north of ten thousand dollars. The mechanism of the 3100 is also very, very cool looking! :) 

In the same price category, she had one of the last gold-bonded Muramatsu flutes (once called the "Galaxy" series) that they made before they phased them out. This one is very Japanese spec, with a B-foot, open holes, inline G, and nothing else. It plays like a dream, with a beautiful, sweet, colorful sound from bottom to top. This particular flute benefitted enormously from the addition of a pair of lefreQue plates, so I'd recommend adding them if you decide to purchase this instrument. It is, I believe, $6,400-ish, which is basically free. Plus, they don't make them anymore, so there's that. 

Rounding out the higher-end flutes that I loved the most was a family of Burkart flutes: a 9k-on-silver Pro model, a heavy-wall sterling silver Pro model, a .998 Elite, and a 595 (5% platinum, 95% silver) Elite. These are all incredible flutes, but I want to focus particularly on the 595 and the 998 flutes...they have very different personalities, but both of them are monster flutes that are just begging to find a home with a professional symphony player. 

The 595 was my preference of the two, as the platinum content gives it a roaring voice that is full of color and heft, and when paired with the 595 headjoint with gold riser, you will get anything you ever needed out of a flute in an orchestra. Just be aware that you have to be able to handle it; it takes a lot of air to get the most out of this flute, but it's very worth the work. 

The .998 silver (99.8% pure silver) flute is like playing a singing rainbow. The color spectrum is intense, and every note seems to have a heat-shimmer on top of it. Legatos are effortless, and the "spin" is unreal, particularly when paired with a C4 style head in .998 silver with a 14K gold riser. (I found the M2 style to be a bit overwhelming with this particular flute.) If you REALLY want to treat yourself, a 9K Hammig headjoint turns this into a magic wand. I would particularly recommend this flute to the orchestral 2nd flute player who needs to be conscious of blending and changing tone colors easily to match their principal, but without sacrificing volume when needed. 

All of Betsy's Burkarts have a B-foot, open holes, offset G, and a C# trill key. (What I refer to as the "New American Standard" configuration, and my personal preference). 

Another instrument that she had on her table that I found myself going back to often, which I have also previously written about, was the Trevor James Recital "Aria" model flute, which features a sterling silver body, sterling handmade Flutemakers' Guild of London headjoint, silver-plated mechanism, and soldered tone holes. With C# trill and D# roller, this flute comes in at UNDER $4200, and is an absolute killer for anybody who wants some Real Flute meat but can't afford the 5-figure flutes. It plays unbelievably well, and everyone I asked to try it had the same reaction: disbelief. Trevor James is really, really upping their game in a huge way right now, and this model is definitely part of that trend. They are no longer just a maker of basic student-model flutes; they are rapidly becoming a serious contender in the Big Boy Flute market. 

Betsy also maintains a fantastic stock of Burkart Resona and Elite piccolos. If I were in the market for a piccolo right now, the Resona would almost 100% be my pick. I never fail to be amazed by the performance-to-price ratio of this instrument; for just over 2K, you are getting a wooden US-made piccolo that plays like a $7000 instrument. (The wave headjoint makes it a particularly pleasing experience for the occasional piccolo player who does not specialize on the instrument). 

If it's headjoints you're looking for, well, she is the LADY. From a fabulous platinum-and-gold Haynes to a huge selection of handmade wooden headjoints by Dutch maker Jan Junker (which are killer heads!), and everything in between, including a large selection of gold headjoints from Powell, Burkart, Dana Sheridan, and others, you just must give her a ring! 







THE FLUTE PRO SHOP

Next up for discussion is the inimitable Joan Marsh Sparks' baby, the Flute Pro Shop (click here!). Joan always, always has an amazing assortment of treasures, and this weekend was no exception. The centerpiece of her booth was a one-of-a-kind all-gold Muramatsu flute, #40000, which was built as a show flute for the brand and was never intended to be sold, but instead to be used as a demonstration of the pinnacle of Muramatsu's flutemaking art. All engraved, with an additional 24K gold headjoint, it certainly attracted attention in its Lucite display case! (And, though it has never been on offer before, for $275,000, it can be yours! Own a piece of flute history today...and then lemme borrow that flute.) 

What she brought to the convention this year was a veritable Sophie's Choice of flute babies. Had I walked over there with a no-financial-consideration bank account, I don't know what I would have done. Here's a short list of the things she had that keep me awake at night, in no particular order: 

Levit 14K gold flute #114: This flute is the ne plus ultra of the American flutemakers' art. Priced well below $20,000, this flute is almost literally a steal. Barely used by someone who has defected to another maker (hrmph, marketing!), this flute is BEGGING for an owner who will break it in and love it forever. It is just unparalleled. (AND IT'S GOLD!) 

Miyazawa Platinum-clad body with a sterling head w/platinum riser: This flute is just fascinating! I've not come across many platinum-clad Miyas, but here's one! Fully loaded with options, this flute is a screamer. Big, bold, beautiful voice in all registers, the un-platinum-ed sterling head lightens up the whole thing a bit, but the platinum riser gives it some meatiness and allows you to spin the power out of the platinum-clad body. (Mechanism is also platinum plated!) 

Platinum Brannen with silver mechanism: This is exactly what you'd expect from a platinum Brannen flute. I very much enjoyed playing it, and would think this would be much beloved by a big dude who loves to blow hard. (Or a lady with iron lungs; let's not be sexist here!) 

9K Muramatsu with 14K Mancke head w/wood lip and 14K riser: This flute. Wow. Previously used by stellar flutist Sergio Pallotelli, who has since switched to wood, this flute is just a total killer. It's resonant, it's colorful, you could knock down walls with it, and it's just super, super fun to play. The wood-lipped Mancke head is extremely comfortable on the face, and the gold riser inside the wood lends crispness and immediacy to the articulation, which can sometimes be a challenge of wood. It's just over $21K, which is a completely okay price for a flute of this caliber. This and the Levit would be the ones I'd recommend the most out of Joan's offerings from the weekend! 

5K Sankyo headjoint: One of the rarest flute-world items I've come across, this is an UNPLATED 5K gold Sankyo headjoint. For those of you who remember when Sankyo was using the 5K gold alloy, almost all of the flutes/heads produced in it were then plated in 18K rose gold; this headjoint did not receive that treatment, and possesses a glowing, champagne-like luster that would look absolutely breathtaking on a silver body. 

Muramatsu 14K gold with 5k gold mechanism: God, where do I even start with this thing? I don't really know what else to say about it except I would kill a leprechaun with his own pot of gold to own this flute. I didn't even know Muramatsu USED 5K gold...this flute is crazy good. Huge sound, tons of color, the mechanism is flawless, and the paler shade of the 5K mech on the 14K rose body is mind-blowingly pretty. The lip is gorgeously engraved, and it's $32,000, which is seriously not horrible for an all-gold instrument with engraving, a C# trill key, and D# roller. 

Joan, you killed it this year! :) 


SANKYO FLUTES

I know I've already talked about the bass flute, but Sankyo had a few other tricks up their sleeve that made me scream a little bit inside. In addition to their regular offerings in the silver line (up to and including the 99.7% pure silver 901), they brought two different models of 10K gold (drawn and soldered), two 14K/silver flutes, and one all-14K gold flute. They were, as expected, incredible, and just reaffirmed why I've been a Sankyo player for literally my entire career. I still feel the most at home when I'm blowing into a Sankyo RT headjoint, no matter what it's made of. 

However, they also had some very, very, very special treats for me this year. 

Wood. Lots of it. Two grenadilla flutes, one with a 14K gold mechanism, and not one, but TWO cocuswood flutes, one with a silver mechanism, the other...well the other is possibly the most special flute I have ever played in my life. 


This flute was made by Kikuo Hisakura, the late president and co-founder of Sankyo Flutes, an absolute visionary and flutemaking genius who lived for the flute and the art of making them. He sadly left us in 2009, but he left behind this flute, which he made for himself. It is the most beautifully figured and highly colored cocuswood I have ever seen, and it has both B and C footjoints and two different headjoint styles, one with a lipplate and one traditional style...and a 14K rose gold mechanism. I have honestly, in all my years of obsessively seeking out unique flutes, never seen anything this beautiful. 

(Photo courtesy of Yuka Honda/Sankyo Flutes)


It wasn't even on display. It was hidden beneath the table, and when Yuka Honda (Sankyo's Director of Marketing) pulled it out and opened the case, I was actually afraid for a split second that I was going to cry. I still cannot believe that I was afforded the honor of playing this flute. I don't know what to say about it, but I think a picture says a thousand words, so here is a photo that Liz Vergili, the US Sales Manager of Sankyo, took of me both while I was playing it and then after. 

I don't think I've been this happy, perhaps ever: 




I mean, LOOK AT THAT HEADJOINT! I literally cannot even. Thank you, Liz and Yuka...I will never, ever forget this. 


There are so, so many more instruments and accessories I wanted to try, but fear not, I will get to them one way or another! The biggest takeaway for me from this convention, which I honestly did not anticipate, was the people. I met a staggering number of people that I have heretofore only known in cyberspace, either on Facebook, Instagram, or via my blog. So, to all of you, I say thank you...thank you for being my friend online, and thank you all for being EVEN MORE wonderful in real life. I adore you all! (If I forget anybody, I am so, so sorry, I don't mean to!) 

And of course, as ever, it was a delight to run into friends I just don't see enough...here's to spending more time together soon! (*cough* Guilherme Andreas, Eric Maul, Rachel Hacker, Paula Robison, Joan Sparks, Kristen Michelle, Betsy Trimber, Felipe Tristan, Lev Levit, David Houston, Luke Penella!)

Big, huge, giant flutey hugs to Ethan Lin, Liz Vergili, Yuka Honda, Cathy Miller (OH MY GOD CATHY MILLER), Zachariah Galatis, Bill Hutzel, Jason Blank, Bernhard Hammig, Ted Anton, Johnathan Bernhardt, Adam Workman, Tracy Harris, Carla Lancellotti Auld, Delandria Mills, Kate Ridlon Fish, Andrea "Fluterscooter" Fisher, Nora Epping, Rebecca Ashe, Jonathan Landell, Hans Kuijt, Ervin and Susan Monroe, and anyone else I may be forgetting right now! 

See you all next year in San Diego! 

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

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