This year was my first time attending the National Flute Association‘s annual convention, held this year in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I’ve been to conferences of all the other major woodwind organizations in the US (IDRS, ICA, NASA), and here are some things that I think the NFA did exceptionally well:
- Organization and planning. From what I could tell, nearly everything ran smoothly and according to plan.
- Engaging younger players. There were a number of competitions and masterclasses for high school and college students, and a Saturday “Youth Day” for flutists aged 8-13.
- Engaging non-professional flutists. My sense is that the NFA has a stronger amateur contingent than the other organizations, and that they are working to ensure its future.
- Appealing to broad musical interests. In my opinion, the NFA is doing a better job than anyone, including NASA, of integrating jazz into their convention in a serious way, and is integrating historical instruments at least as well as the IDRS. Ethnic flutes also got some good representation. Thursday night’s big feature concert was Baroque flute, and Friday’s was world music. Saturday’s concert was more standard concerto fare, but with a strong jazz representation. Kudos to the NFA for acknowledging that there is life beyond conservatory repertoire lists, and to its members for seeming to genuinely embrace and enjoy the varied offerings.
Like the other major woodwind conferences, the NFA’s is packed with so many events that it’s impossible to get to everything you want to attend. Here are a few personal favorites among the things I saw and heard (in no particular order):