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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.

Serendipity by Cameron Golinsky is a short and entertaining flute choir adventure. Filled with simple ideas and beautiful harmony, the piece is comforting and warming. The composition’s instrumentation is 2 piccolos, 3 C flutes, 2 alto flutes, and 1 bass flute. According to Golinsky’s own programme notes, the calculation of the piece is “Eric Whitacre + A Charlie Brown Christmas + Medieval Dance + *e Nutcracker”, which all add up to create Serendipity.

The premise of the introduction is set by a moderato tempo concreted through the rhythmic patterns of minims and semibreves, with a dynamic ranging from p to mp. The parts are introduced by a rippling effect through harmonic layering to provide a homophonic texture that creates a relaxed musical feel. This is changed by an abrupt forte allegro in bar 10, with a motif that is reminiscent of the Trepak—Russian Dance (Tchaikovsky). The music is filled with joy and child-like wonder. With a playfulness between the parts, the music will keep players and listeners on their toes.

A captivating moment comes at bar 39, with long tones being held against a variety of polyrhythms. This delicate combination of quadruplets, duplets, syncopations and offbeat rhythms builds into a snow blizzard of sound, entrancing the listener, before the original theme suddenly breaks through to resolve the piece.

It is crucial that intonation is consistently good for the stylistic jazz harmonies, which are accompanied by crisp articulation to help keep interpretative clarity. On numerous occasions, the parts contain highly repetitive motifs for a noticeable period of time, which might challenge performers and lead to complacency. It would also be advisable to have two confident piccolo players due to the playfully written parts needing to shine through. All parts require a discipline with basic technique if they wish to showcase the music to its full potential. The diffculty of this piece is deceptive. Although easy listening, Serendipity would perhaps be best suited for a flute choir of advanced playing ability. That being said, some intermediate players may embrace the challenge, and I think it would be possible to achieve this over a longer period of time rather than on a short deadline. Serendipity would be great as a concert opener, a real firecracker to catch the audience’s attention, or as a technical exercise in blending and creating textures to add to your arsenal of ensemble craft.

Elise Fairbairn

From the Publisher

Serendipity is fun. Think of Eric Whitacre + A Charlie Brown Christmas + Medieval Dance + the Nutcracker. Enjoy!

Item Details

Category: Flute Choir Music: 7 Mixed Flutes
Publisher: ALRY Publications
Publisher's reference: FC434
Our Stock Code: 1421811
Media Type: Paperback