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Dakota Summer: Scenes from the Prairie for Four Flutes

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Pan - Journal of the British Flute Society

This review first appeared in Pan, the journal of the British Flute Society and is reproduced with permission. Join the BFS: membership starts from £20 a year.

This is an attractive programme piece for four players, in five short movements, evoking pastoral scenes from the Dakota Prairies. Flute 1 doubles piccolo, flute 2 is C flute throughout, flute 3 doubles alto and flute 4 doubles on bass. There are a couple of swift but manageable instrument changes. It’s clearly printed on good quality paper with sensible page turns and the most challenging parts are in parts 1 and 2, although there is plenty of interest for each part. It is around nine minutes long in total. This piece is well worth learning; it is sweetly melodic and is well written for the four players.

Summer Skies opens with a languid, hazy feel, then brings in semiquaver sextuplets alternating between flutes 1 and 2, mimicking birds high above. Movement 2, Fields, is faster and more energetic, with fast semiquaver movement to depict the machinery and human activity. Movement 3, Country Church is a Swedish hymn, with bell effects, leading straight into movement 4, Dakota Dance, a lively folk song for piccolo and 3 C flutes. The final movement, Cemetery and Sky takes us back to  an elaborated version of the opening movement and to a reflective end.

Pre-Covid I was working towards a performance of this with the Mid Sussex BFS adult amateur flute ensemble, all playing at at least Grade 8 level, who really enjoyed it. This would be suitable for an advanced school flute choir and is very audience friendly. I would include this in a lunchtime or evening concert with my
own flute quartet, hopefully in the not-too-distant future!

Anne Hodgson

From the Publisher

Dakota Summer is a gem of Americana, charmingly portraying the landscape of a Midwestern summer afternoon. The 9-minute work for mixed flute quartet evokes moods, feelings, and imagery of a hot summer day, as well as the musical depictions of a Sunday prayer, a barn dance, and a silent cemetery. Dakota Summer is scored for 4 C Flutes, with the 1st doubling Piccolo, 3rd doubling Alto, and 4th doubling Bass.

"Dakota Summer is a program work that portrays the landscape of a summer afternoon in the Midwest. I attempted to create musical poetry that would evoke not only the moods and feelings of a hot summer day, but also visual imagery. Summer haze, insects, clouds, birds, tractors, waving fields of crops, Sunday prayer, a barn dance, and a silent cemetery are all portrayed." - Jonathan D. Campbell

Performance duration (approx): 9'00

Difficulty guide: 7-8
Difficulty level, roughly compared to ABRSM exam grades. 0 is beginner, 9 is advanced (beyond grade 8).


  • Summer Sky: Clouds hang in the bridht, blue sky. The horizon stretches in endless prairie. A flock of birds erupt from the grass, insects swirl in the sunlight. The clam returns, the heat intensifies.
  • Fields: Farmers busy themselves with machinery. The sun shines on crops waving in the breeze.
  • Country Church (Bred Dina Vida Vingar): An old church stands in the prairie. A bell calls the people the worship, and they sing a Swedish hymn.
  • Dakota Dance (A Kiss for a Fig): A single dancer is joined, one by one, gradually breaking into a kaleidoscope of movement.
  • Cemetery and Sky: Behind the church lies an old cemetery. The headstones bask silently in the sun. Our attention returns to the vast sky, filling the prairie with quiet light.

Item Details


  • Part 1: Flute doubling on Piccolo
  • Part 2: Flute
  • Part 3: Flute doubling on Alto Flute
  • Part 4: Flute doubling on Bass Flute
Category: Flute Quartet Music: Four Mixed Flutes
Publisher: Falls House Press
Publisher's reference: FH0503
Our Stock Code: 1498592
Media Type: Paperback - Score and parts (28 pages [score])