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Headwaters for Low Flute Ensemble

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  • Highly recommended

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 eight-minute work was commissioned by the National Flute Association’s Low Flutes Committee for the 2017 convention in Minneapolis. Scored for three altos, two basses, contra and optional subcontra, the piece opens gently, and captures the tranquillity of Lake Itasca, the origins of the Mississippi River. The style of the opening reminds me a little of Nigel Hess’s wind band work, Thames Journey, which, like this piece, tracks the course of a river through its journey. The harmonic language is tonal and approachable, with rhythms becoming more energetic as the music progresses. Overall, this is quite a gentle piece, which makes use of the natural character of a low flute ensemble to good effect.

The parts are laid out clearly with well-managed page turns. Frequent parallel harmonies require a careful control of intonation and the frequent changes of time signature need a good sense of rhythmic control. One of the plus points about low flute ensembles (for low flute players) is that rather than having to reside mostly within the low register, most of the parts make use of much more of the full range, especially the first altos who sometimes spend time in the 3rd octave. The parts are well balanced, with a good level of interest for all players, and at an intermediate level. The piece is written with a clear understanding of he individual character and response of each of the instruments, allowing for the creation of a rich ensemble sound.

Carla Rees

From the Publisher

The piece opens very simply and softly with sustained melodic entrances that create peaceful sounding chords that represent the lake waters which form the river's humble beginnings. As the piece develops from these opening intervals, it continues to grow and build with melodic and rhythmic complexity. This building of intensity represents how the waters of the Mississippi River grow from humble beginnings at Lake Itasca in the mighty river that has shaped so much of the history of the country.

Performance duration (approx): 8'00

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

Item Details


  • Part 1: Alto Flute
  • Part 2: Alto Flute
  • Part 3: Alto Flute
  • Part 4: Bass Flute
  • Part 5: Bass Flute
  • Part 6: Contrabass Flute
  • Part 7 (Optional): Sub-Contrabass Flute in G
Category: Flute Choir Music: 7 Mixed Flutes
Publisher: Forest Glade Music
Publisher's reference: 494-03110
Our Stock Code: 1415742
Media Type: Paperback - Score and parts (17 pages [score])