Review by Thomas Tamvakos
Published in Jazz & Tzaz (The Hellenic Jazz Magazine)
Translated from Greek by Rosina Kulisch
The Columbia Flute Choir is an important 18-member group of flutists, unique perhaps in the world, which was created in 1994 in Virginia, U.S. Its members are mainly young and talented musicians, very well trained in the flute. They decided to unite their strengths and under the impeccable direction of Sharyn Byer, former first flutist of the McLean Symphony Orchestra, they trace an admirable course (especially in the wider metropolitan area of the District of Columbia), which is praised by audiences and critics. They play all kinds of flute, from the piccolo to the sensationally-shaped bass, with exceptional ability, which surprises. All this is evident in the excellent CD "Music of the Turn of the Century...The 21st Century!!" which circulated last year, under their own production and distribution. It contains 7 compositions by CFC members Alexandra Molnar-Suhajda (4) and Melvin Lauf, Jr. (3), both recipients of awards as composers and interpreters.
The style and the form relate primarily to the post-modern musical trends with serial elements and influences of Stravinsky, Copland and Ives, especially in the 5-part suite of Lauf's "Misty Mountains". Yet, there are plenty tonal elements with influences of Debussy, as, for example, the impressionistic "Greek tableaux"-- 5 Tone Sketches for Flute Choir" of Molnar-Suhajda. This 5-part piece, which is the best of the CD, clearly of a programmatic nature, imprints the willingness of its creator to describe historical or mythological people and situations. Naturally, Pan (Pan and the Dryads) and Marsyas (Marsyas, the Satyr) are present, while in a superb way Molnar-Suhajda and the CFC take us on a journey with Pegasus (Pegasus, The Winged Horse) over the flow of two rivers (Alpheus and Arethesa: The Two Rivers). There are enough solos, and the exchange of different flutes adds a great deal of charm.
Of a programmatic nature is the equally important "Tapestries", in 3 parts, of Molnar-Suhajda who, must be noted, besides other distinctions, she was chosen as "GMU Most Outstanding Musician" in 1997. The CD closes with the rhythmic "Millennium Celebration" (taped from a concert) by Lauf, an exceptional performer of the bass flute and founder of the Potomack Flute Quartet.
So, there are many reasons to look for and acquire this wonderful CD (I consider it a given for the musicians and friends of this instrument), by coming in touch with the charming Sharyn Byer (e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org).
You can get information about the CFC and the CD on the web site: http://columbiaflutechoir.org/.