Flute Force, a highly acclaimed quartet playing all instruments of the flute family, will kick off Afternoon Music’s 2015-2016 season at 4 p.m. Sunday, December 6, at The Unitarian Church in Summit, 4 Waldron Ave. (corner of Springfield Avenue).
Members of New York-based Flute Force—Rie Schmidt, Sheryl Henze, Elizabeth Brown and Wendy Stern—all play all the flutes, from piccolos and standard flutes to alto and bass. All the instruments will be heard at the upcoming recital in a program featuring works by Telemann, Debussy and Stravinsky as well as composers specializing in works for flute and woodwinds.
The audience is invited to meet the artists at a reception after the concert.
Founded in 1981, Flute Force has performed extensively in the U.S and Canada, including concerts at Carnegie Recital Hall and Merkin Concert Hall, both in New York, and at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. They have recorded widely, and excerpts from their recordings were used in the HBO series Sex and the City. In addition to appearing at Yale, Dartmouth, Penn and other universities, the group has appeared several times at conventions of the National Flute Association and at the Australian Flute Festival in Melbourne.
“An extremely persuasive advocate for the flute quartet medium,” wrote Musical America. “Four top-quality players in a perfectly balanced and expressive whole.”
Rie Schmidt, a founding member of Flute Force, plays regularly with the Westchester Philharmonic and the American Symphony. She has performed at many Broadway shows, with the New York City Ballet Orchestra and was featured flutist and dancer in Leonard Bernstein’s Mass at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. She and her husband, guitarist Benjamin Verdery, concertize as a duo throughout the U.S. and Europe and have recorded two flute and guitar CDs.
Sheryl Henze is a member of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Opera Orchestra of New York and the Westchester Philharmonic. She has performed as a soloist with the Boston Symphony, the Hudson Valley Phiharmonic (with Beverly Sills) and the Cabrillo Music Festival Orchestra in Santa Cruz, California. As an active free-lance musician, she has played with the New York Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra and the New Jersey Symphony. She joined Flute Force in 1992.
Performer/composer Elizabeth Brown, who joined Flute Force in 2006, has had compositions performed across the U.S. and around the world. She is the only musician to have both played with and written for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In 2002, she was artist in residence at the Hanoi National Conservatory of Music and has been composer in residence at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. In addition to flute, she plays and often performs on the dang au, a traditional Vietnamese one-stringed zither; the theremin, an early electronic instrument; and the shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute.
Wendy Stern has played in the flute sections of the New Jersey Symphony and the New York Philharmonic and toured widely as piccolo player with the national company of the New York City Opera. A former teaching-artist for the Lincoln Center Institute, she designs and facilitates aesthetic education workshops for teachers, students, seniors and orchestra musicians. She joined Flute Force in 1988.
Afternoon Music’s season also features a solo recital on February 21 by jazz pianist Bill Charlap and a string-piano recital on April 3 with violinist Eric Wyrick, cellist Mariko Wyrick and pianist Mitchell Vines. Vines is artistic director for Afternoon Music and music director for The Unitarian Church in Summit.
Afternoon Music tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors. Students are welcome free. Subscriptions to all three concerts are $65 and $50 for seniors. For advance tickets, send a check made out to Afternoon Music to the church at 4 Waldron Avenue, Summit, NJ, 07901.
The series is funded in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, through a grant administered by the Union County Division of Cultural & Heritage Affairs.