NFA Convention, by Mindy Wilcox
I just attended my first National Flute Association convention held in Chicago this year. My husband and I flew from Lindberg field the morning of Thursday, August 7 and arrived at the convention site by mid afternoon. When I checked in I received my name badge and a 294-page book that listed all the events, biographies of the performers, programs, maps of the facility, vendor advertisements and much more.
It was overwhelming at first and I wished I had come in a day earlier to attend the First-Time Attendees Orientation. Fortunately, I had printed out the on-line schedule earlier this summer and had a rough idea of what I want to do. I was on the go nonstop from the time I checked in until the final performance Sunday afternoon usually eating lunch on the run so I wouldn’t miss anything.
So what do you do at a flute convention? I focused primarily on the concerts. Some of the artists I heard were Maxence Larrieu and Robert Dick, who received the 2014 Lifetime achievement awards, Leone Buyse, Jean Ferrandis, Raffaele Trevisani and James Galway who, with his wife Jean, gave the final concert. The entire flute section of the LA Philharmonic gave a concert and thanks to them I now have a greater appreciation for the piccolo. There were wonderful flute choirs that included piccolos down to contra base flutes and everything in between.
In addition to all the concerts there were many classes and seminars on a wide variety of subjects from performance anxiety, making a living in music, preventing musicians’ injuries, to yoga for flute players. There were master classes and flute choir reading sessions. There were sessions for flute teachers and competitions for young artists. Interesting to note is that some of the young artist and high school competition winners in years past are now well-known professional flute players. Demarre McGill won first prize in the 1992 high school soloist competition and went on to become the principal flutist in the San Diego Symphony before taking the same position with the Seattle Symphony.
Finally, there were the vendors. I have never before seen so many flutes and flute gear in one place. It is a great opportunity to buy a new flute if you are in the market for one.
The NFA convention will be in San Diego in 2016 so if you don’t want to travel just hold on for two more years! It is a wonderful experience for flute players of any level.