Some were band directors, some students. Many performed regularly, a few hadn’t played in years. They ranged in age from 13 to 80 years old.
But the dozens of people who gathered Saturday morning at Ordway Concert Hall in St. Paul each carried the same small instrument — the flute.
Not a violin or French horn in the bunch. This piece calls for 100 flutists to roam the concert hall during a St. Paul Chamber Orchestra performance Wednesday. Despite the grand setting, amateurs were welcome, the nonprofit orchestra assured those interested. So women and men, teens and retirees came to rehearse.
“I want you to forget everything you ever learned about flute playing,” superstar flutist Claire Chase told the group. “We are trying precisely not to make a tone.
The very first thing contemporary music rock star Claire Chase told us flutists ready to play last Saturday morning at the Ordway Concert Hall was "Forget everything you've learned." And with that, it was game on.
We're all part-time flutists — students, players in community orchestras, and music-lovers — who accepted the call to participate in a work for four soloists and at least 100 migrating flutists. It would seem Minnesota outdid itself in the above-average department as we nearly doubled the quota: 189.
Under the auspices of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO), with matching funds from the Knight Foundation, Clair Chase is soloist and guide in a performance of a work by Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino, Cutting the Circle of Sounds. The piece is eerily resonant with current events and the chaos and confusion of recent days. The flute soloists — SPCO's Julia-Bogorad Kogan and Alecia McQueerey, the University of Minnesota's Immanuel Davis along with Chase — play from their perches in four corners of the hall while the chorus of flutists migrate throughout the hall, evoking a kind of swirling and displaced populace.