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The Ghosts of Mesa Verde for Flute Duo [Playing score(s)]

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  • Highly recommended
Pan - Journal of the British Flute Society

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.

The intreaguing and somewhat bleak picture on the cover of this piece suggests the atmosphere of what's inside - a duet depicting a haunting story.  Inside, the scene is set - " you are alone on a mesa in  dry, southwestern landscape" - and this is reflected by low alto flute sounds, pitch bends, and a 'slowly swirling' shaker.  In this first section, the timing is free, but still requires coordination between the two parts.  As you "enter the ruins and explore the mysterious empty spaces", wind sounds, harmonics and flutter tounging are introduced.

Gradually, rhythmic patterns emerge and there is a tentative interplay between the flute and the shaker, until "you descend a ladder into an ancient kiva" (I had to look up what a kiva is - an underground room usd for spiritual ceremonies) where you encounter the ghosts of the title.  From here a lively dance starts,building in pace, pitch and excitement.  The piccolo is introduced as the mood becomes wilder, leading to "reckless abandon" - when I tried out this piece with an adult student, we particularly enjoyed this instruction!  The wildness suddenly gives way to wind sound again as the 'mirage' disappears, and the piece ends with a quiter section reflecting the opening.

This duo is part of the composer's National Park series and I'd definitely recommend reading about and looking at some images of the Mesa Verde for inspiration when working on this piece.  It is suitable for Grade 8+ players, ideally with some prior experience of contemporary music, and excellent communication as a duo - there are some tricky rhythms to coordinate.  I felt it would have been useful to have some introductory notes in the score about the story, requirements (one player requires a C flute, piccolo and shaker; the other a C flute and alto) and notation/techniques.  There is, however, a helpful video on the composer's website about how to prepare the score for performance (essential as the page-turns in the printed copy are not really practical), and a recording on YouTube of an excellent performance by Christina Guentha and Jennifer Keeney.


Rachel Shirley

From the Publisher

Both parts double on shaker.

Performance duration (approx): 9'00"

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

Item Details


  • Part 1: Flute doubling on Piccolo doubling on Percussion
  • Part 2: Flute doubling on Alto Flute doubling on Percussion
Category: Duets for Two Flutes
Publisher: Alias Press
Publisher's reference: 494-03090
Our Stock Code: 1444483
Media Type: Paperback - Playing score(s) (8 pages [score])